Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dinner in a Pumpkin

For as long as I can remember, my mom has made chili on Halloween. Since I have never really cared for beans I always ate my dinner begrudgingly and have even made chili for Halloween dinner since I couldn't come up with anything that seemed to scream Halloween more... until this year. This savory meal is stuffed inside a pumpkin for its two hour baking time, what could be more Halloween than that?
 You will need:
a pumpkin, medium sized and squatty enough to fit in your oven
salt and pepper
half a loaf of bread, (You can either use stale bread or lightly toast the bread in the oven for five minutes)
1/2 pound of cheddar cheese cut into cubes
4 garlic cloves chopped
12 strips of bacon fried until crispy and chopped into small pieces
1/4 C. green onions
1 tablespoon thyme
1/2 C. heavy cream
pinch of nutmeg

First carve out your pumpkin. Scrape the sides of the pumpkin until there are no strings or seeds left. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper. Combine the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, green onion and thyme in a bowl and then add to the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be pretty full. Combine the cream and the nutmeg and pour into the pumpkin. The contents should be damp but not floating in cream.
Place the cap back on the pumpkin and place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 2 hours but check on it after a hour and a half. Cook until the insides are bubbly and pumpkin is soft. You can remove the cap for the last 20 minutes of making to make the inside a little more cripsy if you want.
Carefully remove the pumpkin from the oven. You can either scoop out the innards of the pumpkin or slice it and serve the pumpkin with it. I liked having the pumpkin slice on my plate so I could take bites here and there of it.
Although this pumpkin dinner was good, I fully intend on making it with sausage and potatoes next time instead of bread because let's face it, the more meat that is in a pumpkin, the more my husband will like it.

This post is a part of the Month O' Pumpkin series at Housewife Eclectic. You can read the rest of the crafts, recipes and photography ideas in this series here. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mr. Pumpkinhead - Last-Minute Pumpkin Decorating

Today Lu is stepping out from behind her usual Wednesdays on the Web, to share her delightful pumpkin accessories with us. Be sure to stop by Just Lu and check out her amazing Dahlia Top because trust me, you have to see it!

I plan ahead for the holidays. But only in my head.

In my head, I choose our costumes, our pumpkin carving designs, the candy we will hand out to trick-or-treaters before Labor Day.

Outside my head, I spend the day before our first Halloween party creating our costumes from whatever I can find, our pumpkins go uncarved, and the trick-or-treaters leave with spare change or pocket lint -- if we aren't turning off the lights and hiding :).

If your pumpkins suffer the same uncarved fate, never fear! With an hour or less of your time, you can make up for the uncarved pumpkins by introducing a new Halloween character:

Mr. Pumpkinhead is waaay cooler than his more commonly known tuber relative, plus you can keep your pumpkin around for further fall and Thanksgiving decor. You can mix and match faces, or put a face on each side of the pumpkin. Who says that pumpkin decorating has to be permanent?

I stole the Mr. Pumpkinhead idea from my creative mom, who borrowed it from Family Fun magazine. I've modified the process a little bit and provide my modifications and tips as well as a template below.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin food to make this weekend

Halloween is just around the corner and with it comes lots of pumpkin treats! Here are some of my favorites I have found on the web this year. Can't wait for Halloween!
 Pumpkin Pie Truffles by Shugary Sweets
 Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars by All Recipes. 
 Jack O' Lantern Cake Pops by Nothing but Country.
 Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles by Erin's Food Files. 
 Pumpkin cake from two bundt cakes. Source unknown. 
Pumpkin Dump Cake by Cookies and Cups. 

This post is a part of the Month O' Pumpkin series at Housewife Eclectic. You can read the rest of the crafts, recipes and photography ideas in this series here. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WoW: Social Bookmarking - The 5 Ws & H


Last week I told you about two of my favorite online services -- Delicious and Pinterest -- and promised that this week we'd talk more about the whole social bookmarking thing. Up today: the 5 Ws and H. For those of you who skipped English class that day in high school, the 5 Ws are Who, What, When, Where, and Why -- and don't forget the H - How!

Who can/should/could use social bookmarking? You. Your friends. Your neighbors. The bloggers you follow. For anyone who has anything to save and/or share online, a social bookmarking service (comprised of a site and usually a bookmarklet tool) is a great option.

What is social bookmarking? In a nutshell (and as defined by yours truly), social bookmarking is saving and sharing the awesome things that you find online. Saving=bookmark and sharing=social. Pretty logical.

When should you socially bookmark something? Anytime you find an idea that you love that you want to save for future use and/or share with friends. Obviously, if you don't love it... don't bookmark it. :)

Where should you save and share you bookmarks? There are a bazillion and a half different social bookmarking sites around (just check out the list here), but today I'll give you the run-down of a few of what seem to be the most popular.

First up, Pinterest. Pinterest is the new kid on the block, and I extolled its virtues last week. For today's purposes, here's the cliff notes version: Pinterest is awesome because it is easy and because it is very visually oriented.

Next, Delicious. I also talked about Delicious last week, so the cliff notes again: Delicious is great for users like me who save anything and everything and want to save bookmarks in multiple and diverse categories.

The information that I share about these other services is straight from the services themselves and my experience playing around with the service for a few minutes -- I don't regularly use any of these services, but they are popular and worth looking in to if you're looking for a good social bookmarking site to use. If you use any of these or know anything about them, please let me know!

StumbleUpon is intended to help you find new sites and web pages that fit your interests and share those with your friends. Select a few of your interests, and click Stumble, and StumbleUpon will present you with highly rated (based on users' ratings) sites. You then give the site a thumbs up or down and can save and/or share the site/page, including sharing the page on Facebook and/or Twitter. Read more about StumbleUpon here.

FriendFeed allows you to easily share items of interest with your friends and get your friends talking about these shared items. Share through the FriendFeed site or by integrating your account with Facebook and/or Twitter. Read more about FriendFeed here.

Xmarks helps you keep your bookmarks organized across multiple computers or devices and mulitiple browsers, too. Read more about Xmarks here

And, if none of those fit your fancy, you might try Digg or Tumblr.

The social bookmarking service that works for you will be based on what you bookmark and why. 

For example, I am a chronic bookmarker. I bookmark everything I could ever want to maybe consult at some point in the future. So, Delicious works for me because it is, in my opinion, primarily a bookmarking service with a secondary socialization part. The majority of my Delicious bookmarks aren't automatically shared with others, but anyone can see what I've bookmarked if they're so inclined.

But, for the things that I really really love or that I know that my friends will love, I want to share those, so I use Pinterest for those. I also use Pinterest for inspiration that is more visual -- such as an item in online clothes catalog (that probably won't be online forever), instead of a tutorial for how to make a similar item.

Why use a social bookmarking site? You can always save your bookmarks using the Bookmarks menu in your browser, but then if you switch browsers or computers, your bookmarks don't move with you. Online social bookmarking means that you have your bookmarks wherever, whenever and they're safe from life-changing events like your computer crashing. :)

Now tell me... How do you save and/or share the things you find online? Do you use social bookmarking? social networking (Facebook/Twitter)? classic copy-paste into an email? the real-life human grapevine? post-it notes?



Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of two sweet little things (except on the days that they aren't) and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.




Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Perfect Pumpkin Roll with Megan from Sisters-in-Long

Hi friends, today we have Megan from Sisters-in-Long and The Readiness is All here to show us how to make a perfect pumpkin roll. Check out Sister-in-long for some delicious recipes including her fabulous granola and The Readiness is All for some of Megan's hilarious posts. I am lucky to actually know Megan in real life. She is a good friend that shares my love of pumpkin and BBC movies. Take it away Megan. 

When I told my mom I wanted to make a pumpkin roll a couple of years
ago, I think her reaction was something like, "Eahuuugh!" It's easy to
be nervous about a cake that you have to roll up without breaking, but
trust me. This pumpkin roll is delicious, easy, and
impressive-looking. It's perfect for any of your fall dessert needs,
and it's a beautifully light treat. Don't be afraid of the roll. I
promise it will not betray you.

Perfect Pumpkin Roll

Requires: wax paper, tea towel (Don't do it without these two items,
or you will cry bitter, bitter tears.)

Ingredients:

Cake:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs
2/3 cup mashed (canned) pumpkin
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (a secret: whenever a recipe calls for
cream cheese, I always use neufchatel cheese. It tastes the same and
has 1/3 the fat.)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat the over to 350. Cover a jelly-roll pan (edged baking
sheet) with wax or parchment paper, and lightly grease the paper.
(This is very important. Don't do it without wax paper!)


2. Mix together the sugar, flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, eggs
and pumpkin in a large bowl. Pour the mixture into the baking sheet
and spread it evenly over the whole surface. It will be very thin.
Don't worry about it. If you decide to add the walnuts, sprinkle them
over the top at this point. (I've never added them, but I'd recommend
chopping them small so it doesn't ruin the structural integrity of the
cake.)


3. Bake for 14-15 minutes. The cake will start to pull away from the
sides and a toothpick will come out clean.
4. Lay a large dishtowel on the counter, preferably one without a lot
of texture, like a tea towel. Spread a nice, thick dusting of powdered
sugar over the tea towel.

5. Deep breath. This is the trickiest part. When the cake comes out of
the oven, carefully flip the pan upside down onto the dusted tea
towel. (The first couple of times I did this, I made someone come and
stand by me for moral support - and to catch the middle of the cake if
it fell out. However, so far it's never broken for me. Just flip it
quick!) Peel the wax paper away very carefully so it doesn't tear the
cake.


6. Starting at the short ends, gently roll the cake up with the tea
towel so that the tea towel is between the layers of cake. Let the
roll cool completely in the towel. This will help the cake to easily
roll up and not break when you add the frosting to it when it cools.


7. While the roll is cooling, mix the cream cheese, butter, vanilla
and powdered sugar until creamy. The frosting isn't quite as sweet as
you might expect, but trust me. It's excellent with the pumpkin
cake.frosted cake


8. When the roll is cooled, gently unroll it. Spread the filling
gently with an offset spatula and then carefully roll it back up
without the towel. Cover it in plastic wrap, place it in the fridge
and chill it for about an hour. (This is one dessert that is much
better cold.)


9. Slice it into beautiful, swirly slices and die of happiness.





This post is a part of the Month O' Pumpkin series at Housewife Eclectic. You can read the rest of the crafts, recipes and photography ideas in this series here. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Lanterns with Janny from Que Linda


Hey guys! Today we have the fabulous Janny from Que Linda, where she has all sorts of amazing projects going on. You have to check out her bedroom makeover and her fall wreath. Make sure to stop by Que Linda and check her out!

Hi everyone! I'm Janny visiting from Que Linda.  I'm absolutely thrilled that Debra has
invited me to share my Pumpkin Lanterns with you.  Thank you Debra!  I recently
started Que Linda to put my creative juices to good use.   At Que Linda, you'll find
projects and tutorials about sewing, painting, home decor, crocheting and much
more.  I hope you'll stop by to see what's been keeping me busy during nap time.

Today, I want to share these pumpkin lanterns with you.

You can light them up at night.

And keep them out during the daytime.

You can display them inside or out in your front yard.

My inspiration came from a Hemp Pendant Lamp tutorial at Crafty Nest.
All you need is an inflatable ball, craft glue (it doesn't necessarily have to be clear),
and twine.

Draw a circle around the top of the ball at the opening.  Squeeze a glob of glue into
your hand (you may want gloves) and run the twine through your hand as you place
it on the ball.  Wrap the twine around the ball trying not to go in any particular
pattern and avoiding the circled area at the top.  It takes about 3/4 tube of glue per
ball. I found glue for $1 at Wal-Mart.

Wait 1-2 days and then deflate the ball and pull it out.  The twine shouldn't stick to
the ball at all.

Spray paint them orange.

Put some white Christmas lights or fake tea lights inside.

Happy Halloween!
Thanks for letting me stop by to spruce up your Halloween!  I'd love it if you stop by
Que Linda for a visit.
Que Linda


This post is a part of the Month O' Pumpkin series at Housewife Eclectic. You can read the rest of the crafts, recipes and photography ideas in this series here. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Free Paper Doll Template- Halloween Costumes


Remember this paper doll? I created it more than a year ago, first drawn by hand and then drawn on the computer. After more than a year with just the same boring clothes, I decided this paper doll could use a wardrobe face lift. I am introducing a set of Halloween costumes for my paper doll, for all your October paper doll needs. This set is three pages and includes a pirate costume, a witch costume, a ghost costume, a princess costume and a pumpkin costume of course, so I could include this template in my Month O' Pumpkins. 

I recommend printing these costumes onto cardstock then coloring them before you cut them out. All you need to do it print, color and then cut out and play! You can download the costumes at the bottom of the post.

Note: All of these costumes are hand drawn on the computer by me, so they are by no means perfect, but I think they are a major improvement on my last set of clothes. I have been practicing. ;) I am also currently working on another set of clothes that I will release soon, so this little doll will have a full closet!  This are for PERSONAL use only!




You can find the original paper doll here.
Printables in this post are for personal use and available to subscribers of Housewife Eclectic only. To use this printable, please SUBSCRIBE NOW.

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Paper Doll Halloween Costumes
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Pie French Toast with Megan From Kitschy Suburbia

Hey guys! We have the incredible Megan here with us today from Kitschy Suburbia to share with us how to make pumpkin pie french toast. I absolutely love Megan's blog, you HAVE to check out her incredible manicures. They are completely amazing. Her manicures coupled with the fact that she participates in roller derby makes her blog one of my favorite reads, so go check it out!

Happy Fall, everyone!  This is Megan from Kitschy Suburbia.  I was asked by Debra to share a favorite pumpkin recipe with you.  Housewife Eclectic has been one of my favorite blogs since I started blogging in 2010 and I am honored she asked me to join in.  Fall is my favorite time of year and I can never wait until I see the first can of pumpkin puree pop up at the stores.  In fact, as soon as I found a recipe to share, I went to the store and wasn't able to find *any* pumpkin.  Sooooo bummed!  I was talking to my mom while I was home visiting a few weeks ago and she went to her cupboard and gave me a can she'd picked up just before I got there.  So, this recipe is a cooperative effort - a can of pumpkin all the way from California with final execution in New Mexico.  And, I must add that this recipe is a few weeks in the making.  I was meant to share this with you a little earlier but I magically exploded my home computer and wasn't able to access any of my pictures.  This had truly been a labor of love.  LOL

Anyway...sit back, relax and be prepared to add this recipe to your "must try" file because it's a good one!

Pumpkin Pie French Toast
Adapted from a recipe found in New Mexico Magazine, October 2011

2 eggs
¼ cup milk
¼ cup pumpkin purée
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
1 /8 teaspoon cloves
1 /8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons brown sugar
8 thick slices of bread, such as challah
maple syrup or agave nectar

Mix the eggs, milk, pumpkin purée, vanilla, spices and brown sugar in shallow bowl. Immerse the bread slices into the egg mixture until saturated. 

Melt the butter on a griddle or in a large frying pan. Fry the pieces of bread until lightly golden brown on both sides, adding more butter in the pan as needed. Serve with maple syrup or agave nectar.
Serves 4.

NOTES:  I used a bit more than 1/4 cup of pumpkin - I usually add more pumpkin than a recipe calls for (it's just what I do).  I didn't have any brown sugar, but I used regular white sugar and it was delish just the same!

I used a loaf of French bread - my boys are sometimes insanely picky and I knew they'd eat French bread...challah?  Not so sure.

These smelled SO good while they were cooking!  It really did smell like we were having pumpkin pie.  Nate, my 5-year-old was a little disappointed he wasn't getting cake for breakfast.  LOL

If you love pumpkin and you dig French toast, you gotta try this recipe!  It was definitely a recipe we'll be making again.  It was a perfect little twist on French toast - something that made you really feel that Fall had arrived.  And I know the recipe called for agave nectar, but don't go out of your way looking for it - regular 'ol maple syrup works just fine!

One more gratuitous picture of the Pumpkin Pie French Toast.  Seeing these pictures makes me want to make this again in the morning!!

Doesn't this just make you want to go run out and get some pumpkin and French bread?!  Thanks again to Debra and the awesome readers of Housewife Eclectic for letting me join in the Month 'o Pumpkins.  I hope you enjoyed my recipe.

This post is a part of the Month O' Pumpkin series at Housewife Eclectic. You can read the rest of the crafts, recipes and photography ideas in this series here. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WoW: Delicious and Pinterest (my favorite things #10-ish)

typography canvas by tenderbeasts on etsy

See my previous favorite things... dafont firegestures | babycenter | allrecipes | w3schools | pandora and grooveshark | color scheme designer | swagbucks | amazon mom

Before we get started with my 10th(ish) and final (for now) favorite thing(s), a couple of quick updates on previously mentioned favorite things:
  • Pandora has lifted their 40-hour listening limit! Now you can listen as much as you'd like for free! You can still pay the $36 to upgrade to Pandora One so that you can use the desktop application and have fewer ads and timeouts, plus higher quality audio. 
  • Effective October 13, 2011 (just the day after I raved about it!), Amazon decreased their Subscribe and Save discounts for new subscriptions. Now the highest discount you can receive (on a new subscription)  is 20% -- 15% for being a member of Amazon Mom and 5% for using the Subscribe and Save feature. Bummer.
Okay... on to today's topic... two of the online services I use most (probably tied with Google and its related services :): Delicious and Pinterest. Both services are considered (at least by me :) online social bookmarking services... Translation: save and share awesome/ugly/interesting things you find out there on the world wide web.

Unless you've been hiding under a virtual rock, you can't have escaped hearing about Pinterest. But just in case you've crawled out from under the rock just to read this post (thank you!)... here's the [shortened] scoop: Pinterest is a virtual pinboard to share and categorize your inspiration. (Read the full spiel here.)

Delicious is more of a traditional bookmarking service where you can save items of interest and share them with specific people or an audience of followers.

I use both. Why? Because both have strengths and weaknesses, so I use them in different ways. Who says I have to be loyal to one bookmarking service? ;)

The biggest draw of Pinterest is that it is visual. When you save a pin, you choose a photo to represent your bookmark. Awesome!

Another huge bonus for Pinterest is that it is incredibly easy to use. Just drag the little bookmarklet to your browser bar, and then all you have to do is click every time you see something pin-worthy.

And, rounding out the trifecta, Pinterest makes it easy to make those bookmarks social. You can easily follow what your friends are pinning and comment on their pins.

In my eyes, the biggest downfall of Pinterest is that your pin can only go on one board. I mean, you can pin it on multiple boards, but then any followers will see that pin multiple times. So where does one put a pin that could go both on your home decor and i can make that pinboards? Conundrum. (And, yes, those links are to my boards, if you want to go check them out :)

The versatility to place a bookmark in multiple categories is a huge strength of Delicious. When I save a link in Delicious, I can tag it with many, many tags. So then when I go back to look for something I bookmarked, such as a delicious chicken recipe, I can look at all the links I have saved and tagged as chicken, or dinner, or recipe.

Really, for me, the best-ever bookmarking service would be a combination of the two: Delinterest. No. Pinlicious. Yes, that's it... Pinlicious! It would be both versatile in tagging/categorizing bookmarks and visual, plus simple to use. But, until this blessed union takes place, I will continue using both services: Pinterest for the things I really love and want to come back and see over and over again, and Delicious for the not-as-visually-interesting things that I still want to save. 

If I were a casual bookmarker, I would probably just choose one service and stick with that. But casual is not my style. I bookmark EVERYTHING. Seriously. If there is a chance that I might ever want to see x or y again, I bookmark it. I've been bookmarking for about 3 years now, and I consult my bookmarks first, before I Google. It works almost every time I'm looking for just about anything. :)

So, there's the short version of these two social bookmarking services. Starting next week, we'll be spending a few weeks talking more about these two and other social bookmarking services, as well as etiquette (am I the only one who can never spell that right?) and... well, what do you want to know? Questions and suggestions are always welcomed and quite encouraged...




PS - Catch up with me on Pinterest here and on Delicious here. Oh, and Debra is on Pinterest, too. See her boards here.

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of two sweet little things (except on the days that they aren't) and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.