October 30, 2015

Bippity-Boppity-Boo!

Halloween is tomorrow! Last week I shared the details on how I made K's Charlie Brown costume. Seriously, easiest costume to both make and wear! Today I thought I'd continue the DIY love and show you how to turn yourself into a pumpkin!





Way back in the best decade ever {the 90s FYI} I always had the best Halloween costumes. Most of them were DIY or store bought but improvised upon. As you saw in last week's Charlie Brown post  I was The Great Pumpkin. Fortunately for me, this was not my first time dressed this way. Today I'm going to show you how to make your pumpkin dreams a reality in three/four easy steps.


Step 1: The "outfit"
Because your costume is the focal point of this costume you'll want to wear all black clothing. I suggest keeping is simple and donning black tights or leggings, a black long sleeved shirt or turtleneck and black boots. 


Step 2: 
The "costume"
Head to your local hardware store {Lowe's, Home Depot, True Value, etc.} and pick up a pumpkin adorned leaf bag.


DIY-halloween-pumpkin-costume


After checking Party City, Target, Lowe's and one Home Depot I finally found one in a Home Depot a few towns over. I feel like these used to be pretty common place and I saw them around the neighborhood often. Nowadays, I hardly ever see them, which is sad. 

Once you have your bag you're going to lance the bottom in two spots. These will serve as your leg holes. You don't want to make them too big, but just big enough that your legs will go through and the bag will stretch some. So, cut small. It should be snug but not blood constricting. 



Next you're going to lance two more holes on the sides of the bag. These will serve as your arm holes. As with the legs, don't make these too big. The plastic will give so less is more. 


Step 3: The "filling"
This is the easy part. You can fill your pumpkin with whatever you prefer, but obviously it needs to be something very light weight - packing peanuts, newspaper, etc. As when I was a kid, we used newspaper. Crumple your paper into a ball. You'll want to use as many paper balls as possible so that you can properly fill out your pumpkin. Keep in mind, however, that your body will also take up space and you will need to be in the bag before adding the paper. 



Step 4: The "stem"
To finish of your costume you'll need a stem. If you want to go all in, by all means, paint your face green. That's not really my style so I kept it simple and added a green towel to serve as a stem and tucked it into the collar of my costume. 




And there you have it! Turning yourself into a pumpkin, no fairy godmother required.







October 23, 2015

Get Your Peanuts!

Every year K and I attend a Halloween party with my parents. We all have a great time and it's fun to come up with new couple costume ideas every year. In the past we've been a cop and a convict as well as a cowboy and Pocahontas. This year was a bit different. 

Basically, we slacked. We couldn't decide on a costume theme that we both liked. While I was home at the beginning of October my mom made a comment and I loved the idea. For me, it was partially recycling a costume from when I was 10.



One of the benefits of being Charlie Brown is that it's a great last minute costume. The whole thing cost less than $10. If you can get yourself a collared shirt, that's best but beggar's can't be choosers.

Here's a look at what you'll need. 



To get  your zig-zag shape start by tracing the pattern onto a piece of cardboard or a paper bag.  Next you can lay out your felt end to end on top of the shirt if you want to get a feel for where the pattern will lay. It should be about 2" from the hem.

     


Use a light-colored marker, or sewing pins, to mark the points on your felt. If you're using a marker {I used a silver Sharpie} then just trace the outline of the cut out} You're going to do this on 4 pieces of felt {depending on your shirt size} to cover both the front and back of the shirt. If you want it to be super precise make sure that all four pieces of felt create a fluid pattern.






Once you've finished getting the zig-zag onto your felt you're going to start cutting. This is where you need to work the measure twice, cut once adage. Felt is cheap but no one wants to make unnecessary trips. 




After your felt is cut place it on the shirt to see how it will look. It should be placed about 2" from the hem. As you can see my felt isn't 100% symmetrical, that's okay! Once it's on the shirt no one is going to notice the centimeter differences. Just make sure that your pieces line up end to end and flow fluidly. Once you've decided on your placement it's time to start gluing!




To keep the pattern fluid start with the first piece of felt you traced. I used both fabric glue and hot glue. If you're using both as well I would recommend using the fabric glue for the points and the hot glue everywhere else. Otherwise, use your best judgment.

Start by applying a thin line of glue along the edges of the felt. Keep in mind that hot glue doesn't really spread so if you want the entire thing glued down, go for it! I would also recommend gluing one side at a time. I glued the entire bottom part first because it made it easier to work with.



Once the front of your shirt is glued, flip it over and repeat the process on the other side. When you're completely finished let it dry for a few hours. Mine sat overnight. Once it's dry your ready to get dressed!

Charlie Brown always wears the same outfit, which if you're in a time crunch is a simple uniform of black shorts, yellow socks, and brown shoes - along with your newly created shirt! Don't forget your pal snoopy!

Peanuts-couples-halloween-costume-with-snoopy



October 19, 2015

Farm to Table

If there's one thing I love during the fall/winter season it's being in my kitchen. I love to cook for myself and others, trying new recipes, and adding twists of my own, but fall is the perfect time of year to marvel in all the comfort foods. After my amazing fall weekend earlier in the month, I decided to whip up something special.


A few Sundays ago I headed out to Demarest farms to pick some apples. I was met with a Black Friday like shopping experience. The place was swarming with people all looking for pumpkins, donuts, and fall treats. 

I wasn't able to do the pick-your-own because they had just closed for the season and instead selected my apples from the inside. There were so many gorgeous apples to choose from, and such a variety.



I asked one of the employees which were best for use in a pie and she said to just mix and match. Commence delight. I chose Gala, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Fuji, and Empires. Once home, it was time to get started.

I recommend prepping your apples first because they can sit longer than the dough. Personally, I think this adds to the flavor! To do that we'll start with the pie recipe. This comes from the Central Market Cookbook which I highly recommend.



fall theme apple pie recipe card







At this point you should start making your crust. A few years ago my Mom handed the "Bible" a/k/a the Pennsylvania State Grange Cookbook down to me. It was my grandmother's before her. It has some of the best recipes in it and it's my first stop when baking. The recipe we use is super easy and it will make enough for two crusts, excellent for any filled pie.


fall-themed-pie-crust-recipe-card








Once your crusts are finished and you've placed one in your pie pan, you can fill the pie. While your cover crust is still on the counter cut in some vent holes. I made mine larger than needed because I used the pieces to make the apple leaves, however, I would recommend making them smaller and using the left over crust {if you have any} to make the apple.  Cover the pie and press the edges with a fork to seal.

uncovered-filled-apple-pie








finished-apple-pie-with-pumpkins-and-gourds



October 14, 2015

Things I Can't Deal With Lately

Everyday someone annoys me. Upon first reading that it sounds like such a negative statement, and I suppose it is. It's also a true one. A while back I was reading Rachel's post about things she can't deal with and I knew I needed to save the idea for a "rainy day".

Family_Guy_grinds_gears




CHOs {Cheeks Hanging Out}
WTF is up with this "trend"?!  I can't even begin to tell you how many ass cheeks I saw this summer. And some of them are on girls who are clearly not old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes. Do you not feel the draft? Does swamp ass affect you that badly? For the love of God, put on some longer fcuking shorts!





Pinterest
I used to really like Pinterest as much as the next basic chick. I mean, endless fashion options, designs possibilities, and the food... I could stuff my face for years! Lately, I just can't deal with the site at all {more so than usual} and pretty much have stopped using it. All these 'pinned for you' posts annoy me and the stuff people have been pinning lately.... 





The Bike Lane 
If you've ever been in New York City then you're aware {or should be} that there's a bike lane on most streets. You're also probably aware that the sidewalks are always insanely crowded and it's a pain in the ass if you're trying to hustle yourself to/from work. That being the case, I walk in the street. It's much less crowded and I'm able to get where I need to be. Where I walk is right next to the bike lane. 


I think my picture is pretty straight forward, but if not, let's be clear about one thing: the green lane is the bike lane. If it's not green, it's not the bike lane. See those stripes? That's where I walk. You know what that is? THE EFFING STREET! That section is there ONLY as a buffer between the bike lane and the cars that park on the street. It's literally a buffer zone. And if I have one more arrogant biker tell me to get out of the bike lane I'm going to stick an umbrella in their spokes. 






October 13, 2015

Booked Vol. 3

Hooray for book day!!! From last check-in I kind of slacked off. That last summer vacation just did everything and more, which means I did no reading. I did manage to get through a few books though. Mostly filler stuff, but it's win-win because I was able to clean up my Kindle library and finally read some of the stuff I downloaded a few years {oops} ago.

The Scale:     A {love}     B {enjoyed it}   C {ehh}    D {let down}      DNF





The Secret / Rhonda Byrne  B
Is it against the rules if I reveal The Secret? If you're into spirituality, happiness, and living the best life you can create this book is for you. My only gripes were that I felt that the passages Byrne actually wrote were just a summary of the parts of the book where she quoted other authors, which to me was just repetitive.



Christmas at Pebble Creek / Vannetta Chapman B
This was an Amish novella I downloaded forever ago. I had no idea it was an Amish book until I started reading it though. It was a very short 24 pages, but it was a nice read to wind down the day at work.


Home to Pebble Creek / Vannetta Chapman B
Again, a free novella downloaded ages ago. This one was a little better than the Christmas one as the ending left you wanting to know more.... which of course you'll find out if you buy the next book. 


Cowboy Crush / A.L. Loire C
Again, free. Again, novella. This one was a nice 50 pages though and although some wouldn't classify this as a "book", I am, because it's published word. So stick that in your bookcase. This was a short little romance story that was actually "part one" of a story, so that was disappointing. 


Sweetheart in High Heels / Gemma Halliday  C
I really like this series and this was an in-between novels story. It had all the elements of the regular books, which was good. And it was a fun little story, but overall it was just ehh, hence the rating.


Doctor Sleep / Stephen King A
I fell in love with Mr. King this summer. His books always piqued my interest but their size was always a deterrent. He's probably my favorite "new" author. This book delivered just as I expected it would. If you're a fan of his stuff you've either read it or it's on your list.


Appalachian Serenade / Sarah Loudin Thomas B
I downloaded this on my Kindle who knows how long ago. The story was set in "older times". I say that because I can't place it but my guess is the early 1900s. It doesn't necessarily read like an old book so I found it enjoyable as a gap read.


In the Mood / Ellen Fisher B
Another fluff book, but this one was really fun. It's about a male author who writes romance novels but is the biggest prude in real life. One of his fans offers to provide him with some lessons on how to update his writing. It was short and fun and I read it in an hour or so.



Mad About the Hatter / Dakota Chase A
I got this book from NetGalley. The first thing that drew me in was the cover art. It's so bright and colorful that I was the moth to its light. This book is so different than anything you've probably ever read about Alice in Wonderland. For starters, Alice has a brother, named Henry. And this is his story about his adventures in Wonderland with Hatter. There some twists I wasn't expecting, some I questioned at first but accepted nonetheless. It's a decent read. I give it an A because there are some really creative names, places, and dialogue in the book.


The Desire Map / Danielle LaPorte  B
This is a book all about really connecting with yourself to create "goals with soul". Danielle's theory is that when we set goals and aspire to reach them, we're actually chasing the feeling that goal will provide. Her book aims to get you in touch with the feelings behind your desired goals so that they can be met. This isn't just organizing, reading X books, or baking a sweet treat. These are the goals the fuel your passions, speak to your true self, and shift your life. These are the goals that feed you. 



Every day I get an e-mail from IFTTT with a quote. Today's was spot on. It's from Joseph Brodsky and it said: "Man is what he reads". I think it's an interesting quote.

What about you, what did you read? And do you think the quote holds weight?


October 09, 2015

Fall Film Challenge: Check-In

This post was all drafted, ready to go, and then Blogger decided to get squirrely and replaced the post with an entirely different draft. I don't get it, I don't understand it but I retyped the entire thing as best I could.

We're about a month and a half into the Fall Film Challenge and I finished way earlier {Sept. 28th} than I thought I would. Who knew!


Here's a look at what I watched:

1| any set in New York City. Almost Famous - It was good but I didn't think it was amazing. I think I built up a lot of hype in my own mind about this. 

2| any incorporating hot air balloons in the story. Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium - This movie was so fun. It just reminded me to never truly grow up. There's always something magical going on if you look close enough.

3| any featuring a child as the main character. The Book Thief - I was going to watch Kids but it was taking forever to get from the library so I opted for this instead since it was on HBO. I absolutely loved this movie. It was such a great story. I wish I had read the book.


4| any Disney film. The Sword in the Stone - I was going to watch Inside Out but since it's not on DVD yet I switched to this. I'm a Disney junkie but I have to say, this was the most boring Disney movie I have ever seen. It was just so old looking.

5| any set in Egypt OR that has an Egyptian character OR that stars an Egyptian actor/actress. Deep Cover - I was originally going to watch Exodus: Gods and Kings but once I put it on I was bored to tears. I did some research and this movie stars a Cairo born actress. My initial reaction was ehh but after more reflection, this actually wasn't a bad movie

6| a close friend or family member's favorite film. Pride & Prejudice - I couldn't tolerate the book but I actually liked the movie a lot. It was long but the story was told in a way that made it move a little quicker.

7| any with the word great in the title. The Great Outdoors - This is on par with National Lampoon movies but with the John Candy/Dan Ackroyd duo I thought this was a lot funnier... and heartwarming.

8| any starring Harrison Ford. Cowboys & Aliens - I remember seeing the trailer for this and wanting to see it. I'm glad I waited this long. I should have kept waiting. I understood the concept, I was able to stick with it, but this movie was just lacking. I didn't care for it at all.

9| any featuring an idiot as the main character. The Pink Panther (the original) - Another movie I think I overhyped on my own. It had it's funny moments but overall, it was kind of boring.

10| any mentioned in Levis Srauss' list: denim in the Oscars: a look at jeans in cinema. Thelma & Louise - Not sure what took me so long to see this but I really did like it. It's not one I'd watch repetitively, but it was good. And a baby faced Brad Pitt? Adorable!

11| a film about a knight. Season of the Witch - I went into this thinking it wasn't going to be that great. Personally, I really enjoyed it. I wasn't expecting the ending but it fit the story.


12| a love story. The Best of Me - I had originally picked Casanova but then decided to watch this instead because it was on Netflix and I had nothing to do at work. Word to the wise? Don't watch this at work. It's Nicholas Sparks so you know what that means.

13| a movie about something miraculous.  127 Hours I'm just going to say it - I don't think I would have made it. I'm cool for blood, guts, and gore, but the scenes where he's cutting his arm off, no thanks. 

14| any starring an actor/actress with the same first name as yours. Kingsman: The Secret Service (Michael Caine) - I'm a really big fan of Michael Caine and this had been on my list to see since the trailers were airing. It was a little 007 but a lot more unbelievable. I still enjoyed it.

15| a film about the Olympics. Miracle - K owns this. I've avoided it because I'm one of those rare people who doesn't give a rat's tail about the Olympics. This is a factual movie and I actually ended up really liking it. 


16| a film on time magazine's list: the top ten newspaper movies. His Girl Friday - This is one of my favorite time periods for movies. Black & whites are the mac N cheese of the movie world if you ask me. This movie was fun, even though I didn't care for the ending.

17| any with a question in the title. Shall We Dance? I had originally picked Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? but I think I'm just not meant to see it. Any time I attempt to watch it I flake. Shall We Dance was fun and it made me want to take dance lessons.

18| any with a score of ninety percent or greater on rotten tomatoes. Skyfall - I'm not a fan of Daniel Craig {bring back Pierce!} but I do love the 007 movies. This one was a little different since M was the target {spoiler?} so that made it interesting, but overall, I found it to be a bit boring.

19| a film about a superhero. X-Men: Days of Future Past - This was an easy one to get through. I love me some X-Men. I was confused at first but once I understood I was all in.

20| any with subtitles. Let the Right One In - I thought this was going to be a lot scarier than it was. It wasn't scary at all. Like, at. all. It was more a tween love story. I hear the American version is more horror though.  

21| any incorporating unicorns in the story. Legend - I tried to cop-out and watch My Little Pony: Twinkle Wish Adventure but after about 20 mins I wanted to shoot myself. Holy annoying. Also, that was a straight to DVD movie so it didn't count. I chose Legend after some Googling because Tim Curry was in it and I love him. Other than his voice, you'd never even recognize his character. I actually really liked this and was surprised I'd never even heard of it.


22| a film about a personal victory. Chef - I wanted to watch Southpaw but again, not on DVD yet. Chef was on my list back when it was at film festivals. It was really enjoyable. And all the food they cook in the movie? Mouth watering. I need to get a food truck like right meow. 

23| a film with black or white in the title. Black or White  - Kevin Costner is like fine wine. How does that happen? This was a really nice movie if you liked The Help. It's not the same, just on par with those feelings.

24| any set in a country you would most like to visit. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (England) - I picked this because Netflix and Tristan + Isolde (Ireland) just looked so boring. I really loved this movie. It had happy, sad, and funny moments and was just really fun. Amy Adams played her character perfectly.

25| a film set in a zoo. Zookeeper - I expected this to be funny and it was. I like this kind, or any kind, of comedy so I was more than happy to sit down and watch this.


The Bonus List was just released so I'm compiling that list and getting back on the movie train, wish me luck!


October 02, 2015

The TBR Takedown

Like every other avid book reader, or my laundry list of things to do, my To Be Read pile is always growing. My physical shelf is two rows deep already, and let's not even talk about what's on my Kindle. Since I got a little burnt out from all the reading that took place this summer {but hooray for meeting my Goodreads goal!} I've been reading much slower.


This month I've decided to buckle down and start tackling the list. For the rest of the year I'll only be reading books from my TBR list. In the past few months I've gone through the list to trim it down as I no longer wanted to read certain books. I also have this nasty habit of buying new books when I have recently purchased books at home on the shelf, also waiting to be read. Hello, my name is Michael and I'm a book hoarder.

Here's a look at what's coming up:


Summer Sisters / Judy Blume
I'm not a huge Judy Blume fan {gasp!} but this one caught my attention.


Mad About the Hatter / Dakota Chase
I received this for free from NetGalley in exchange for a review. Sadly, I haven't gotten around to reading it but I'm still interested because it sounds promising.


Wuthering Heights / Emily Brontë
I bought this book for $1 about 2 years ago. It's been sitting on my shelf ever since. During the summer I pledged to read it this fall. I'm {hopefully} sticking with it!




I Take You / Eliza Kennedy
This has been sitting on my shelf since May when I received it from Blogging for Books. Oops. The summer reading challenge kind of took over and then I just haven't been in the mood for it. But, if I want to request another book, I need to get through it. 


I'm sticking with these four since that's a decent amount of reading and Wuthering Heights is going to take some time because of the writing style. Hopefully I can blaze through these and keep going. I've got a new reading challenge all picked out for 2016 already.

How do you tackle your reading lists?