Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween

Hey June, does Halloween make you want to party?

She is totally ready.

Too bad for you, June, because today I'm cleaning my house, shredding a box of documents, scraping paint off a table, taking William to the airport, and watching Dateline Friday with my mom (cause nothing says Halloween like Dateline Friday).

Happy(?) Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ready to see your Halloween Party get schooled?

Well, we can all stop trying now.

The prettiest, yummiest, and most excellent Halloween party has happened... thanks to the party planning skills of my sister-in-law, Marci.

Here are the highlights:

Kids table (that's a mummy juice box), pretty decor, party favors:
















Adult place settings:

















Monster eyeballs (oreo truffles), Pumpkin Bones (Puffy Cheetos), Scabs (Beef Jerky), Witch Wands (Chocolate-dipped pretzals):


























Vomit (Spinach dip), Cat Bites (cat-shaped sandwiches), Ghoulish Ghost Pops, Ghost Poop (Marshmallows):

























Not to mention Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, Tortilla Soup & Chili (each served in pumpkin bread bowls), Strawberry Almond Salad (thanks mom), and these cupcakes (you're welcome).

Costumes were so good this year.

1. Kent, a cereal-killer. Tauna, a "news flash". Love them.
2. Ryan, Billy Mays. Sarah, a fairy (I wish you could see her eye makeup. GORGEOUS.)
3. Yours truly. Me, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. June, Octopus' Garden. William, Mr. Kite.
4. Grant, Larry Fitzgerald. Easton, Rocky Balboa. Mitch, a Warrior. Carson, Mario.


























This little guy was a cherub. He wouldn't stop moving his legs, he seriously wanted to fly away.

























London was an adorable Rapunzel, but I couldn't get a photo of her. (She was too busy with the fairy Sarah.)

I wish I took more pictures.

But here's a spooky tale:
Once upon a time, a man named Joe Rogan hosted a show called Fear Factor and forever changed the way Marci's Halloween parties were planned. Because her in-laws are a bunch of suckers for gift card prizes, we agreed to play her little fear factor game.

Here's a list of the rounds:
1. Drink soda through a baby bottle and burp the loudest.
2. Place pantyhose around your head and eat a banana.
3. Spell words using letters that are buried in a pile of worms.
4. Bobbing for apples... did I say 'apples'? I meant to say sausage, sardines, and pigs feet.
5. Eat various chocolate-covered bugs.

I suspected that Marci's goal is to just get someone to barf.
William barfed.
Mission accomplished.

Read more about Marci's party here. I can't wait to plan the next Halloween Party, only to have our family thoroughly disappointed that I can't live up to Marci's.

P.S. This was my favorite picture taken:
























Fly Lincoln FLY!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Don't Stop Believing

June has finally graduated to her highchair. We decided she needed a change when she was able to pop out of her Bumbo seat a few days ago.

























My little champ is growing up.

In an unrelated subject, I've finally completed my Mormon.org profile. It's really difficult for me to put into words why I'm a Mormon. There are too many reasons why, and too many experiences I've had that confirm my beliefs to put into a short paragraph. Does that make sense? If not, just click the link to my profile... it's on the right sidebar.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ghosts and Ghostbusting



















Today I'm sharing old and new Halloween traditions over at Pics-O-Andrea. See it here.

(Pics-O-Andrea is my homegirl. She's one of the few girls I know that appreciate 1990s pop culture as much as I do. Plus, she created this beauty:












you can buy it, plus many of her other prints here.)
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Listening to: Ryan Adams "Ashes & Fire". Someone said it's the perfect album to listen to when you're getting in the mood for Fall. I think I agree.
Eating with regrets: candy corn. It always makes me feel a little yucky.
Currently obsessed with: Tiny Desk Concerts at NPR. Especially this one. I would love to work in an environment where musicians come to play in your workspace.
Itchin' to: play another game of Bonanza. I think I may have dreamt about it last night.
Already planning: the Coombs Halloween party for next year. Marci passed on the torch to me, and I've been thinking about it since. Here's just a preview of what will happen: flannel. Okay that's it, I'm not saying anymore about it until next October.


Pumpkin Cupcakes




























I know there are plenty of pumpkin recipes floating around, but here's one more. I made these last year for my school... I. LOVED. THEM.

This year, I made them for Marci's Halloween Bash. The Vampire teeth bites are super easy (and quick) to do. Just stick a toothpick in them to make 2 holes. Mix maple syrup with red food coloring, and using a toothpick, drip the syrup on the holes to make it look like blood.



















Now they look like a vampire got to them first.

Here's for the actual cupcakes:

Pumpkin Cupcakes (Allrecipes)

Ingredients:
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Frosting Ingredients:
6 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven 350 degrees
2. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir into the pumpkin mixture until thoroughly combined.
3. Spread the batter evenly into 24 cupcakes, or an ungreased 10x15 inch jellyroll pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes in preheated oven. Cool before frosting.
4. Cream together the cream cheese and butter. Stir in vanilla. Add confectioners' sugar a little at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Allow cake to cool before frosting. Top with cinnamon sugar.

A weekend full of favorites

(My favorite things are highlighted in RED. Check it.)

Friday night:
-Din din with friends at JOE'S BBQ (it's one of my top 3 favorite places to eat).

Saturday:
-Started Wonder Years on Netflix... and so it begins.
-Ward Fall Festival. William participated in the haunted house, of course, as Dr. Frankenstein. He forced young, crying children to touch brains, dried ears, vomit, etc.
-William also made a killer pot of chili, which is my favorite fall dinner.
-Took some fun pictures from the photobooth at the festival:


























-Oh it doesn't end there. We had some good friends come over to play my new favorite game, Bonanza. Oh how I love to be competitive with competitive people. AND I won for the first time ever.

Sunday:
-A nap (which is very rare these days)
-Delicious taco salad for dinner with Mi Amigos salsa (thanks mom and dad)
-Ate 6 chocolate chip cookies (the Nestle Tollhouse recipe was SO GOOD... who knew?)
-Played a fantastic game of Sequence (I witnessed an amazing win by Tauna: TWO sequences in one move for the win = amazing.)

And if Mondays were part of the weekend, I would tell you that I'm making pumpkin cupcakes and we're going to the annual Coombs Family Halloween Bash tonight. Can't wait to share what happens.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple Pie from Scratch

































My favorite kinds of recipes are "successful failures". These are the kind where nothing seems to go right when you're making it, so frustration ensues. Out of discontentment , you
find your own way to make it work, and then it miraculously does.

This recipe was a successful failure.

I wanted to make one big apple pie, really. But this particular crust wasn't agreeing with me. My patience wore thin quickly when I couldn't get the dough into the pie tin in one piece. So I simply rolled out smaller dough pieces, and made 4 little pies.






















I think it might even taste better this way.

As a bonus, the crust actually turned out, even though I suspected that it was ruined. I LOVED how it tasted and the texture was perfect. I think this recipe might be idiot-proof.



















I found both pie crust and pie filling recipes on Pinterest...via Pioneer Woman, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite recipe websites.

Here we go...

Pie Crust (via Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Crisco
3 cups flour
1 whole egg
5 tbs cold water
1 tbs white vinegar
1 tsp salt

Preparation Instructions

In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Separate the dough into thirds. Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)

When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan.

With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.


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And now the actual pie filling and crumbly topping:

Ingredients

6 cups peeled and sliced Granny Smith Apples
1/2 whole (juice of) lemon
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbs flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 jar caramel topping

In a bowl mix peeled apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour and ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside. For crumb topping, cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter, then add in brown sugar, oats, and ¼ teaspoon salt.

Add apples to prepared pie shell and top with crumb topping. Cover crust edges with aluminum foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil from crust and place back into the oven for another 30 minutes. Chop pecans, and when five minutes remain, sprinkle them over the pie. Finish baking. Quiver with anticipation.

Remove the pie from the oven and pour ½ jar (or more, if you’re feeling dangerous and naughty) of caramel topping over the top. Allow to cool slightly before serving, or don’t if you can’t wait.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall-ing Slowly

I've discovered that "Falling Slowly" isn't just a sad song by Glen Hansard, but rather the title of Arizona's Fall season. It takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r for fall to actually kick in.

Why do we keep saying it's autumn here? It seems like every year when September arrives, Arizonans are thrilled that it will soon get cooler. But our hopes are quickly dashed each day until about the end of October, when MAYBE the high will be in the low nineties.

Arizona has a knack for kicking things to the curb, like daylight savings time, a decent hockey team, and immigrants (bad example, but sadly true). So here's my proposition: I say we kick the fall season to the curb too. We are only kidding ourselves, really.

And while we're at it, let's kick scorpions to the curb too... disgusting creatures.

Believe me, I LOVE the idea of fall. I think it's actually the best idea ever. But it would have been nice to spend more time outside today. June and I love going on walks and a little lunch in the park would have been lovely. We lasted about 15 minutes before the weather got to us. (And maybe some sketchy teenage hooligans that decided to come to the park as well.)



































(Above: June and her new favorite toy, a paper cup. Below: my lunch, courtesy Sprouts Deli Department)

Unfortunately, it was 95 degrees today.

I even tried to take a picture of how red June and I were when we got home:




























You can't really tell. But believe me, we were both RED.

Here's to winter, Arizona's REAL fall season.

Slump

I try not to complain too much because I don't want to sound ungrateful. I am SO grateful.

But things have not been easy lately.

So to help me forget these hard things, bear with me as I write a quick list of things I'm grateful for...

#1: These two:

















The one on the left is the best because she's getting better sleeping at night, eating solids, and letting me sit on the floor with her (for a while she ONLY wanted to be held). And she lets me kiss her cheeks way too much.

The one on the right is the best simply because he makes me happy. He also cooks me pancakes, writes me funny emails from work, and loves my haircut (which I am STILL not happy with).

#2 - My family:
My parents are so supportive... They are quick to help in any way. I don't know how my mom does it, but she always calls at just the right time. My brothers are the same. I love hanging out with each one of them. I miss going to ASU games and Carolinas with them. And a HUGE plus: they have awesome families. Love those guys.

#3 - My In-laws:
Last weekend, my mom-in-law, Martha, came to AZ for my sister-in-law's baby shower. I just loved spending time with her. My favorite that happened? Going into June's room Saturday morning, only to find her in Martha's room having a good time. Grandmas are the best.

I am really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year, simply because I get to spend a week in Utah with the Bradfords. It's ALWAYS a blast. And the best part? June gets to finally meet Uncle Michael.
























Seeing missionaries come home is the greatest feeling ever.

#4 - this talk. Elder Uchtdorf is on a roll lately. He says exactly what I need to hear.

#5 - Good music. (Okay, okay. Ryan Adams' new album isn't that bad, William. It's actually really really good.)

There. I already feel a little better.
Now I'm ready to bake my first apple pie tomorrow.

P.S. I love these photos. They are good to look at when you're in a slump.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Final Beatles Costume Song is...

'Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite':

























William wanted this kite to be so big, he would have to walk sideways to get in through the door...mission accomplished.

Materials included wood, fabric, a belt, screws, and staples. Can you tell William built this costume? (Yes, built.) It even folds so it fits in the trunk.

So here are all three:


















I think our little family makes a great Beatles album.

My goal before the end of October is to get a family portrait of all three of us... perhaps a Costumed Christmas Card picture?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Next Track on the Beatles Halloween Costume Playlist...

'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds':


























This one's a given. Not much thought put into it really... but definitely fun to make. (Just so we're clear, those raindrops and 'Lucy' letters are both diamonds.)

It was so easy: I basically just glued everything on. I WAS going to stitch it all, but didn't.

I also got a new haircut. It hasn't been THIS short since high school. So now every time I look at myself in the mirror, I think about Gap overalls, learning how to drive in an Astro Van, and "Oops I Did It Again".

Man, I wish I was cooler in high school.