Halloween is right around the corner and I'm totally stoked (do they even say "stoked" anymore?) Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday (although Christmas runs a close second). So, in honor of the day of tricks, treats, and dressing up I wanted to share some of my favorite homemade costumes that I've found. Take a look and enjoy them.
•1 package (6-serving size) vanilla cook and serve pudding and pie filling mix
•3 cups milk
•1/2 cup frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed
•Additional whipped topping and candies for garnish(optional)
1. Remove wrappers from candies. Stir together pudding mix and milk in medium saucepan.
2. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Set aside 1/2 cup pudding; place plastic wrap on surface and refrigerate. Evenly divide 1 cup pudding among 4 to 6 clear parfait glasses. Cover loosely, refrigerate while preparing next step.
3. Add 9 candies to remaining pudding in pan. Stir until candies are melted and mixture is uniform orange color; cool slightly (about 10 minutes). Evenly layer orange pudding onto vanilla pudding in serving dishes.
4. Stir 1/2 cup whipped topping into cooled vanilla pudding. Evenly layer onto orange layer in serving dishes. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with additional whipped topping and candy piece, if desired. 4 to 6 servings.
We've been busily crafting away even while operating the pumpkin stand at full steam. We've just been crafting by night instead of during the light of day.
First on the agenda, Nicole's lesson in hand sewing.
She practiced learning her straight stitch (running stitch) by sewing this ghost. As you can probably tell she got a little confused and made the first couple stitches with the whip stitch instead of the straight stitch.
The resulting ghost was a very well loved, thoroughly colored, whip/straight stitch masterpiece Halloween decoration. She's extremely proud of that ghost :D
Today we moved on to different, and more colorful, things.
This stuff is so neat, even I was impressed and had to play with it for awhile.
And it's easy to make and inexpensive. See the recipe below.
Everything is done in a 2:1 ratio so you can make a bigger batch if you'd like.
2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar
Mix all the ingredients together in a large saucepan. Stir slowly over low heat until the mixture forms a dough that pulls away from the sides of the pan and comes together in a large ball.
It should at this point be the consistency of playdoh. If it's still too sticky, just keep stirring it over the heat a little longer until the right consistency is reached.
Then, take it off the heat. Allow it to cool enough to handle.
Break off several handfuls and form into balls.
When the balls are formed, take your finger and create a little divet in the center.
Put a few drops of food coloring into each little divet and knead the color in until it's uniform.
Then play away!
The kids weren't the only one's who were busy. I completed a small crochet project this week while working at the stand.
It's a mini (child sized) tote bag. With a little car crochet applique.
It's perfect for holding small toys like crayons, cars, army guys.
My son likes it so much that I've been thinking of making one with a flower applique for my daughter.
After a full day of pumpkin selling the kids decided that they wanted to treat our furry friends to a few homemade goodies. So we made these peanut buttery doggy treats.
*This recipe is not for dogs with allergies to wheat.*
2c. whole wheat flour
1 tbs. baking powder
1/4 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter
1 c. milk
Preheat oven to 375degrees. In a large bowl combine the flour, oatmeal, baking powder. In a seperate bowl combine the peanut butter and the milk. Mix until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Gently knead the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters.
We used Halloween shapes in the spirit of the season.
Place the cookies on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake until golden brown (about 20 minutes).
Serve them up to your loveable little FURRY critters.
The Craftiviston Thursday, October 15, 2009
Going through our bank statements the other day, my husband came across a charge from his debit card for $200 worth of music downloads from a site of which he had never heard. Then he began to notice other suspicious activity pending...$20 in Fedex charges, $150 for beauty products from Sephora...all of which we had nothing to do with.
YAY! Identity theft!
Ok, so we weren't really excited about it...at all. With those charges going towards our account we were looking at being $20 in the hole and we had a nice mortgage payment coming up not to mention supplies for the kids Halloween costumes and decorations.
We made an immediate call to the bank and the required trip over. We were able to get the charge that was already credited to the account (the music download) cleared, the card frozen and we'll have to make several more trips to the bank to get the rest of the charges removed as they clear. But, at least the bank is working with us and we won't be out any money. It's only going to cost us some time and some hassle but it could've been worse. And for that reason I wanted to dedicate this post to giving you tips on how to avoid identity theft and what to do if you find out your identity has been stolen.
Avoiding Identity Theft:
1. Only Make Purchases On Trusted Sites
Stick with trusted online retailers or smaller sites that use reputable payment processors like PayPal or Google Checkout. Always, regardless of the site, look for the padlock icon on the bottom of your browser to make sure the site is safe.
2. Order Your Credit Report
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, passed by the Federal government in 2003, mandates that each of the major credit bureaus supply consumers with a free copy of their credit report each year. You can get yours at AnnualCreditReport.com (American users only). Your credit report allows you to see whether someone has opened new accounts under your name.
3. Know How To Spot Phishing
Phishing is a technique used by identity thieves to get your sensitive information by pretending to be a site you trust. Phishing schemes are successful because you believe that you're just signing into your bank or credit card account, when it's really a ploy to get your important information. When logging into these accounts, make sure that you're not being asked for any information that you usually wouldn't be required to provide to log in. Social security numbers and addresses are often red flags. Also, check the url of the site. If you're accessing a Bank of America account at a Web address that isn't at bankofamerica.com, it could be a phishing site.
4. Secure Your Network
If you have a wireless network at home or work, make sure that you secure it. A hacker can gain access to anything you do over an unsecured network in a matter of seconds. If you look at the documentation for your wireless router, you'll be able to find out how to lock your router and encrypt your information. It won't affect the way you use your wireless network, but it will keep intruders from getting a hold of your information.
5. Can the Spam
Be very leery of "spam" (or junk e-mail) that works its way into your inbox. Not only are these messages often from phishers, but they can also contain Trojan horses (viruses) that can get into your computer and send your information back to their unsavory creators. If you have the option, install spam-filtering software (or ask your e-mail provider whether it can add spam-filtering to your account). Not only will this cut back on going through your daily pile of junk e-mail, it can also keep your data safe.
6. Don't Store Sensitive Information On Non-Secure Web Sites
As more and more useful Web applications start springing up (like Backpack, Facebook and Google Calendars), it's important to make sure that you're not storing sensitive data on non-secure Web sites. While online calendars, to-do lists and organizers are really useful, make sure that your account numbers and passwords don't make their ways onto these sites, which often aren't protected the same way a banking or brokerage Web site would be.
7. Set Banking Alerts
Many financial institutions are beginning to offer e-mail and text alerts when your accounts reach certain conditions (being near overdraft, or having transactions over $1,000, for example). Setting alerts for your accounts can ensure that you find out about unauthorized access as soon as possible.
8. Don't Reuse Passwords
As tempting as it may be to reuse passwords, it's a really good practice to use a different password for every account you access online. This way, if someone does find out what your password is for one credit card, they won't also be able to access your checking, brokerage and e-mail accounts. It may take a little more organization to use different passwords for each site, but it can help marginalize the effects of unauthorized access to your accounts.
9. Use Optional Security Questions
Like with using different passwords for each account, it's a good idea to set up optional security questions to log into your accounts. Many financial institutions ask security questions that a third party wouldn't know, but you can often set up multiple optional questions that can increase the security of your account. Remember to use questions that don't have answers available by public record. For example, choose questions such as "What was the color of your first car?" over "What city were you born in?"
10. Don't Put Private Information On Public Computers
If you're away from home, make sure not to save private information onto a computer used by the public. If you're accessing a private account at the library or cyber café, make sure to log out completely from your accounts, and never choose to save login information (like your username or password) on these computers.
These days, identity theft has become commonplace, and people are even afraid to use their own personal computers to access any financial information or purchases online. You can do those things without being taken advantage of by making sure that you keep yourself safe online.
Now, What to do if You Become the Victim of Identity Theft (directly from the office of inspector general):
If you suspect that your personal information has been misused to commit fraud or theft, act immediately, and keep a detailed record of your conversations and correspondence. Your first three steps should be:
FIRST, contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus:
To order your report, call: 1-800-685-1111
or write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To report fraud, call: 1-800-525-6285
and write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To order your report, call: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
or write: P.O. Box 2104, Allen TX 75013
To report fraud, call: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
and write: P.O. Box 9532, Allen TX 75013
To order your report, call: 800-916-8800
or write: P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022.
To report fraud, call: 1-800-680-7289
and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
SECOND, close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
THIRD, file a police report with your local police or the police in the community where the theft took place.
If you become a victim of identity theft involving federal education funds or suspect that your student information have been stolen, contact:
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General Hotline: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-800-MISUSED (1-800-647-8733)
For more information or to report identity theft that does not involve federal education funds, visit the following sites:
Federal Trade Commission, 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338)
Internal Revenue Service
Social Security Administration, 1-800-269-0271
National White Collar Crime Center, http://www.nw3c.org
Identity Theft is a Crime: Resources from the Government
Our society generates an enormous amount of data. Most users of that information are honest, legitimate businesses. But no one, including students, is immune from being a potential victim of identity theft. The financial and emotional consequences of this crime are long term and long lasting. The information provided in this document gives you a number of steps for safeguarding your personal data, and there are many other resources available on the Internet.
Well there you go. Arm yourselves with knowledge and be safe out there.
I've been neglecting this blog the last couple of days but I'm still around. I've been spending pretty much all day everyday at the pumpkin stand. That leaves me with precious little time to do anything else.
I did, however, manage to find enough time to make some dinner and to make "mushrooms in the field" for dessert. If you've never heard of "mushrooms in the field" then let me enlighten you :)
It's really simple. You make your favorite fudge brownie recipe. Bake it as you normally would. Then you place some marshmellows around on top of the brownies and throw it back in the oven long enough for the marshemellows to "roast" aka get brownish on top and ooey gooey in the middle. Take it out, let cool, eat it up.
Here's a picture.
Ok...so it's not the most appetizing looking stuff in the world but it does taste good. My children had already devoured some before I could take this picture.
The Craftiviston Friday, October 9, 2009
This was my view this morning.
It seems as though he REALLY enjoyed that garden vegetable puree.
Unfortunately for me that wasn't the only mess I was privileged to deal with this morning. Nope. I was also presented with the gift of dachshund pee on my kitchen floor.
Now, we love Chandler very very much. But I don't love mopping the kitchen floor two or three times a day. Owners of dachshunds understand my pain. They are notoriously hard to housebreak. Add that to the fact that Chandler was adopted by us at age 2 and his previous owners never completely trained him to go outside and we find ourselves with a near impossible challenge.
I even called in a professional, a friend of my who trains dogs for a living. She almost laughed. She agreed to come out and give it a try though, bless her. But alas, she gave up. Wished me the best of luck even though the odds were against us.
Well, this morning I vowed to fight back. I may have lost many battles but I refuse to lose the war.
So, I attempted to make a belly band. If I couldn't get him to stop peeing in the house, I was going to at least stop it from hitting the floor.
I dug out the cute cotton flannel fabric I bought a few days ago. See previous post here. I measured around Chandler's "waist" and used that measurement to determine my length. Then I cut two sections that were 9in wide and long enough to fit around his...nether regions.
I pinned the two sections right sides together. And proceeded to sew a 1/4in seam around, leaving a 1" opening on the side to pull through. I sewed the hole shut then I cut two lengths of velcro about 1 1/2 in. I sewed one length of velcro to one side of the bellyband and flipped it over and sewed the other length to the opposite side.
It was too small. Silly me, didn't take into account the 1/4" seam. Chock it up to a craft fail. I'll be revisting this though and lengthening it but for now, it was back to the ol' drawing board.
I cut two lengths of a different flannel fabric this time (accounting for the1/4" seam)
Pinned right sides together. Proceeded to sew along to Freebird playing on the radio.
And all it cost Chandler was some of his doggy dignity.
The Craftiviston Thursday, October 8, 2009
I've been reading Proust: Portrait of a Genius and thought I'd do my own Proust Questionaire just for the heck of it. So here goes:
1. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
- Living a life devoid of freedom.
2.Where would you like to live?
- I'd like to have a large farm someplace warm. But, really, I'm fairly content on the relatively small farm where I am now.
3. What is your idea of earthly happiness?
- To live a life I can be proud of and share it with my family and my friends.
4. To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
- I get so excited about doing so many things that I usually end up trying to do to much.
5. Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
- Ragnar Danneskjöld from Atlas Shrugged.
6. Who are your favorite characters in history?
-Jesus Christ, Mohandas Ghandi, Einstein, Thomas Payne, Hannah Arendt (if you haven't read The Human Condition. The Origins of Totalitarianism you really should), Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and many others.
7.Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
- Joan of Arc, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Marie Curie, Mother Teresa, Indira Ghandi, Coretta Scott King,
8. Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
- Fantine, Edna Pontellier, Scout Finch, and Meg from a Wrinkle in Time that used to be one of my favorite books growing up.
9.Your favorite painter?
-John William Waterhouse, Caravaggio, Delacroix, many others.
10. Your favorite musician?
- I can honestly say I don't have a favorite musician.
12. The quality you most admire in a man?
- morality, intelligence, and a sense of humor.
13. The quality you most admire in a woman?
- same as I admire in a man.
14. Your favorite virtue?
- Love and maybe humbleness.
15. Your favorite occupation?
- Being a mother and crafting (of course)
16. Who would you have liked to be?
- I don't know that I'd do very well being anybody but who I already am.
That's it folks, that's the list. Feel free to take the time to consider how you would answer each of these questions. You might learn something about yourself, I know I did.
The Craftiviston Friday, October 2, 2009
Free Food Friday
Beef Biscuit Bake
1 lb lean ground beef
1 cup peas or corn
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup milk (soy or rice milk are okay)
1 cup shredded American cheese
1 1/2 cup biscuit mix
3 tablespoons parsley (chopped)
1 can cream of celery soup
Cook beef and onion, drain excess fat. Stir in cheese, parsley and milk. Prepare biscuit mix according to package instructions. Divide in half then roll into two 8 inch circles. Press one circle into one well greased (use Pam or the equivalent) 8 inch round glass baking dish. Spread meat mixture over biscuit. Place other circle over top, press edges to seal.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 to 24 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve with vegetable sauce – heat celery soup with 1/3 cup milk – serve hot.
I sat down at my computer today and began looking through the news as I do everyday. I was shifting through endless headlines of political lies and bickering, "he said, she said" nonsense, another murder, more celebrity sex scandals, the same old stuff when I came across this headine...."Her message finally got across" It's a story about a lighthouse keeper who would send out messages in a bottle every year around her birthday since 1991. She was hoping that one of the messages would find it's way to some exotic location. Finally, and against almost unimaginably slim odds, it did. One of her messages found it's way to a small fishing village in France. The couple who found it sent a birthday card back to the woman at her year round home in Illinois, but, tragically, the woman had passed away around Thanksgiving a year earlier. But the story had forged a friendship between the couple in France and the people closest to the lighthouse keeper.
This was such a touching and romantic story that I felt compelled to share it on here. The bottle traveled more than 3,000 miles over the course of 6 YEARS! Seems like a miracle to me :)
I've been going back and forth over this whole "swine flu vaccine" issue. I'm in the midst of trying to decide whether or not to get myself and my children vaccinated. On one hand, this flu really doesn't seem all that terrible and I'm not entirely convinced of the safety of the vaccine. On the other hand, I have a 6 month old infant and am not sure I want to risk him getting ANY kind of flu if I can help it. I don't know. So far, I'm leaning towards the old fashioned route of strict hand washing and just keeping any of us who may get sick away from the baby as much as possible. I guess I'll just have to keep mulling it over. Hopefully, whatever decision I end up making will be the right one. If any one out there in cyber space who happens to stumble upon my blog would like to offer advice, feel free to comment.