I had so much fun making the Apple Tree Felt Board for O (and I may or may not have had a mountain of extra felt leftover, I plead the 5th!) that I thought I’d make another. This time I went with a Farm theme because, at the time, he didn’t really have any farm themed toys and I love to at least try to come up with gender neutral play ideas. Anything to get away from trucks and trains ALL. THE. TIME!
But that’s beside the point, the idea is the same, cover a foam board with felt and then make cute little felt shapes that stick to the board through the magic of friction! And like last time, the only supplies you really need are the foam board, felt, good sharp scissors and glue or a hot glue gun. He’s had this for about a year now, the animals are regularly stepped on, thrown around, shoved in random small places and they are still in good shape. I used hot glue and none of the pieces have come off or anything. So yay for cheapie recycled plastic “felt” from the craft store!
Anyway, here’s the Farm:
The Barn and the Pond are both glued to the background. I thought about leaving them separate but that seemed like too many pieces.
After that it needed a happy yellow sun and of course, a fence, to keep the animals in:
But wait, is there someone in the Barn??
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Roasted Eggplant, White Bean and Ditalini Soup is hearty and warm and delicious, perfect for Fall!
If you ask me if I want soup in the summer, the answer is definitely NO. Thinking about soup when it’s warm out and the sun in shining, is just, ick, no thank you. But when it gets to be this time of year, I’m all soup all the time. I cannot get enough. It starts right around the first time it’s cool enough to need a jacket outside and lasts pretty much the entire winter. And then, a glimpse of spring and BAM! Back to salad!
I guess one of the other great things about soup is that it’s filling and lower in calories than some of the other things I cook. So even though it’s delicious, I don’t have to worry so much about it eating it. My favorite thing to do it turn one of our old standby meals into soup. I started with our favorite Roasted Eggplant Pasta, (if you haven’t tried it yet, yum!!!) and while delicious, one of the pitfalls of being vegetarian is the tendency to eat too many carbs, especially pasta. I wanted to capture the flavor but make it lighter, so I made it into a soup that still has some pasta but also some added protein. It turned out so well, I am sharing it with you!
A word about broth, stock and salt first. I usually don’t use store bought broth. I never remember to buy it and it’s often high in sodium anyway. And to me, vegetable broth often has pretty strong herb flavors that don’t always compliment what I’m trying to make. But if you’re a broth fan or have some you need to use up, by all means, substitute it for water! But make sure you leave out most of the salt in the recipe!! If you use water, like I do, add salt to taste. But be very careful if you substitute regular table salt for Kosher salt;1 tsp of regular salt would be MUCH saltier than 1 tsp of Kosher salt, they are not equivalent!
Roasted Eggplant, White Bean and Ditalini Soup
1 medium eggplant
1 large onion
1 green pepper
4-5 cloves of garlic in their skins
1 14 oz. can of white beans (Cannellini, Great Northern etc.), drained and rinsed
1 cup small pasta like ditalini
4Tb tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp thyme
The juice of 1/4 of a lemon
1 to 1 1/2 tsp of KOSHER salt
7 cups of water
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Wash your eggplant, cut off the stem and slice it in half the long way. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet greased with olive oil. Peel the onion, cut off the ends and slice into 1/2 inch slices. Wash your green pepper, cut it into large chunks and discard the seeds and middle. Lay the onion slices, the green pepper, and the garlic cloves (still in their skins) on the cookie sheet and spray the tops of everything with olive oil or cooking spray.
2. Roast until the Eggplant is very soft, the garlic cloves are soft and the onions and peppers are soft and caramelized around the edges, between 30-50 minutes. Things may finish at different times (especially the garlic) so watch carefully.
4. Add to a big soup pot with a little bit of Olive oil and the beans. I know…roasted eggplant is not the most gorgeous thing to look at. I promise it will look better at the end and taste delicious. Really.
5. Add the tomato paste and herbs and cook for a few minutes to caramelize the tomato.
6. Add the water and salt to taste and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to simmer and let it cook for 15-20 minutes until the mashed eggplant has pretty much dissolved into the soup.
7. Bring the soup back up to a boil, add the pasta and cook just until the pasta is al dente. (6-9 minutes). I love Ditalini pasta for this soup, it’s the perfect size and shape!
My Halloween Costume week continues with another flashback to my DIY Little Cowboy Costume! This time, it was O’s 3rd Halloween, he had just turned 2 and I didn’t know what he should be (and he was still too little to care). And then my aunts went to Arizona and came back with the cutest little cowboy boots of all time. I mean, they were really truly adorable! So I figured, well then of course he has to be a cowboy! When you get real life mini cowboy boots, you better show them off!
It was actually a really easy costume too. He already had a cowboy hat
floating around. I just glued a star made of craft foam to the front. He also had skinny jeans (toddler skinny jeans are like my favorite thing ever!) and a plaid shirt. So all I really needed to come up with was a Cowboy vest and a belt with a belt buckle.
To make those, I stopped in at my local Joann’s and found this fabric that kind of looks like leather, but is really some kind of coated cotton meaning it is cheaper and easy to work with. I couldn’t believe my luck! Would I use this kind of fabric for a home dec project or something that would get used a lot? Probably not. But it was PERFECT for this. I thought I would end up with some of that thick vinyl pleather, guess it was my lucky day!
The belt is just a long strip of fabric with d-rings on one end and I made the belt buckle slide over the belt with little loops. It’s just a rectangle of craft wood from my stash painted “gold” with a star on top. Super easy.
The vest was a little more complicated because I didn’t have a pattern and I’d never made a vest before but I just based it off a shirt he already had for the basic shapes, gave it a little bit bigger armholes, and it worked out great! And of course it has fringe on the front and back!
I love costumes like this because it was really adorable but required minimal effort, O was comfortable AND it still looked cute even when he put on his coat. It makes me so sad when someone has a cute costume and then it gets all covered up by a winter jacket!
The best part of the whole Halloween was that at this age, (barely 2) O was still kind of unintelligible a lot of the time, but when you asked him, “What does a cowboy say?” He always gave us an enthusiastic and beyond adorable, “YEE HAW!!!!”
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It’s Halloween week and I thought this week I would share some homemade costumes from years past. One of my favorite is definitely O’s very first Halloween when I made him a tiny and adorable Newborn Baby Bunny Costume! He was about 2 months old and I remember that making this costume was literally the first even remotely artistic thing I had done since he was born. I was exhausted (as parents of newborns are known to be) and I still wasn’t feeling ready to leave the house a lot. I thought about it way too much and decided I was going to make a Baby Bunny Costume out of only things I already had in the house! I remember making this in my bedroom on the floor while O was napping next to me, trying desperately to finish before he woke up. It was a truly Make it Work kind of project. Tim Gunn would have been proud!
The hands and body were easy. For the onesie, I cut an oval out of pink felt and stitched it to the front to be a cute little belly. Then I made an easy white yarn pom pom and stitched it to the back. O was still in the stage where we held him a lot,if you had a little one who spent a lot of time lying down in a swing or bouncy chair or something, the tail obviously wouldn’t be comfortable for them.
To make the little mittens, I just roughly traced the size of the hand out of felt, cut two of the same shape, sewed around three sides and turned them right side out. Then I added the little pink paw pads. They didn’t stay on that great and if I had had the time or the energy, I might have added some elastic. But you know what, for the three seconds that he was willing to keep them on, they looked cute enough!
To make the bunny ears, I remember i really struggled trying to figure out what to make them out of. I thought cardboard at first but that wouldn’t really hold it’s shape. I didn’t have pipe cleaners. I didn’t want to use wire because I was afraid it would poke his little head. And then, deep in sewing supplies I found some leftover plastic boning! It was perfect, it held a curve but wasn’t tight and didn’t have sharp ends! I covered it in felt, I think I made the ears out of boning too? And then stretched felt across those as well. And again I used a little felt flap with velcro under the chin instead of elastic because I was a nervous new mom! Elastic might strangle him! (Actually it might, I probably would still not use it) The strap was enough to keep the ears on but it was not at all tight under his chin.
Are you dying to see a Baby Bunny yet? Ok, don’t die of cuteness and then say I didn’t warn you!
Look! He has a little pink nose and a real carrot!!
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So every year I say to myself, “Self, it’s fine, you don’t need a Halloween costume. The holiday is really just for the kids, who cares if you have one? You don’t really love dressing up anyway.” So I focus on O and have a lot of fun figuring out his, and then, without fail, at the last minute, I realize all my friends are dressing up and I get all worried about being a big party pooper. This year I knew we had both a Halloween parade and a Halloween party at O’s music school to go to where one set of parents were dressing up in full size Mickey & Minnie costumes, so I figured I could at least put a little effort into it.
I decided to be SuperMom (thank you Pinterest for providing me with a thousand good ideas!) because I already have most of the things you need for the costume, all I had to figure out was a superman shirt to go under my button up shirt. So I went to Target, the most magical place in the world. I headed to the men’s department because I thought I had seen a whole section of novelty tshirts up there and it turned out, Hallelujah! They had a superman shirt! Unfortunately it was $12.99 and they only had Men’s XL. As I am known to do, I said to myself, “Self, you can just make your own Superman shirt for less. Don’t spend $12.99 for a shirt that’s way too big and you’re going to have to cut up and sew to fit!” Then I turned around and there, a couple shelves over, were plain tshirts for only $6.99! And they happened to have perfect superman blue! I grabbed a Small and headed home to raid my craft closet. (Wish I had looked early enough to order this!)
I was hoping somewhere I had some red and yellow fabric but the best I could come up with was half a 9 x 12 sheet of red craft felt and even less yellow felt. But I made it work and guess what? It turned out cute!
To make my Superman logo, I first sketched it out on a piece of paper. If you can see the fold lines on the paper, I was too lazy to go get a ruler so this was my quick and easy way to make sure the shape I drew was symmetrical and even! It worked out perfectly!
Then I taped the paper to the felt and carefully cut it out with an exacto knife.
If I had more yellow felt I would have just cut one big yellow shape and glued it behind the red. But I didn’t have enough. So I ended up using the cut out parts of my paper stencil to cut little yellow pieces that fit into the red like a puzzle. I don’t totally recommend this method because it was kind of a pain in the you know what. But it ended up working.
When it was dry, I sewed it onto my tshirt with red thread and I was done!!
p.s. I NEVER wear my glasses in real life but obviously glasses are required for the costume, so this is like a once in a lifetime pic!
I think, when it comes to Halloween, people are in two camps of decorating. Scary (think tombstones and gory masks) and cute (smiling pumpkins, cute little witches). When I was a kid, inspired by the street in our town with the really amazing Halloween decorations, you know the kinds of houses that give out FULL SIZE candy bars, my best friend and I tried every year to create, what in our minds was our Halloween piece de resistance, a super spooky witch to decorate my parents’ front stoop. We painstakingly constructed her out of an old coat rack, a mask we painted green with poster paint and an old witch hat with stringy yarn hair. I think we probably gave her an old broom too. And we were 100% completely convinced she was the most terrifying thing ever. (fyi: she was not) It didn’t help that my parents live on a street that only has houses on one side so they hardly ever get any trick or treaters–our spooky witch barely even had a chance to scare anyone. But did we give up? No, every year we tried to make her as scary as we possibly could!
But now that I’m older and more mature (not) some of my fondest Halloween memories are of the happy Halloween decorations and activities we did in elementary school. I loved smiling jack o’ lanterns, cute black cats and friendly looking ghosts. And since O is still so little, I don’t really want him to get scared at Halloween yet either so I definitely tend to stay on the cute side of decorating. But, as you may or may not have learned yet, I am cheap and I like to make stuff! I either buy holiday decorations a couple of days after the holiday is over for next year (you can get such great deals this way!!) or I make them myself.
After picking out Halloween pumpkins with O, I got in the mood to add to our decoration stash and, shopping only in my craft closet, I made this cute little Happy Pumpkin Halloween Wall Hanging out of materials I already had on hand.
I used four little wooden craft squares, a little faux leather cord and some paint–voila! A cute Halloween pumpkin decoration for free!
Which one’s your favorite? I think mine is this guy:
So really, is there anything better than individual sized food? Really? I don’t think so. I bought these individual ramekins about a year ago with the intention of making little vegetarian pot pies. (have I actually done that? no, I have not.) But what I constantly use them for is dessert. Make an individual dessert and Aa is in total heaven. I posted about my Individual Blueberry Crumble, but the recipe really originally started as Apple Crisp and now that it’s apple season and we’re all totally overrun with apples, I thought I should share it.
Individul Apple Crisp
makes 2 individual crisps
1 large or 2 medium apples
3/4 c. of old fashioned oats
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/8 tsp of salt
4 Tb melted butter
Greek Yogurt mixed with honey
Salted Caramel Sauce
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and wash your apples. Peeling is optional, slice your apples into 1/8 inch even slices.
Put the apple mixture in two small oven safe ramekins.
In another bowl, mix the oats, flour, salt, brown sugar and another pinch of cinnamon together and add the melted butter.
Mix the butter into the dry ingredients until combined and it forms large clumps. This is way easier with your hands.
Divide the crumble topping in half and cover the apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until the apples are soft and bubbling and the top is starting to brown. Let it cool until you can handle the ramekins.
So Pinterest has a million and one ideas and I think we’ve all wondered, are any of these Pins really worth doing? Is that too good to be true? Well, today, I have a bit of a Pinterest Win to share – Oven Dried Apple Chips! Actually I’ve made lots of recipes based off of Pinterest and they have, mostly been successful but this one was extra good.
When it gets to be Fall and we go apple picking, I always come home with an enormous amount of apples and all I want to do is make pie and muffins and cookies and spice cakes….I think you get the idea. But if I actually baked all those things, I would weigh a lot more than I would like. So I usually make one special treat and then try to use the rest of the apples on healthier recipes. Applesauce, of course, is a given. I also love to make apple butter (I hardly use any sugar so it’s better for us).
But this year I got curious about apple chips. I was trying to buy O some dried fruit at Target the other day and it is soooo expensive (and at least half of it wasn’t safe for a peanut/tree nut allergy). As I am known to do, I thought to myself, “I can totally make that at home!”
I googled and Pinterested a little and it seems like the best way to make apple chips is with a food dehydrator (which I don’t have). But there were lots of recipes for making them in the oven too. There seemed to be two camps, those recipes that used a super low temperature and cooked the apple chips for like 8 hours. And those that made the over a bit hotter and cooked them quicker. I kind of went with something in between.
Oven Dried Apple Chips
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees ( I kind of split the difference between recommended temperatures)
Cut your apples in half and cut out the cores. If you have a fancy apple corer, you can core them and then leave them whole so you get round apple chips.
Cut the apples into thin 1/8″ slices using a mandolin. Please don’t cut yourself. I did, because I’m stupid. But really, mandolin’s are sooo sharp! If you don’t have a mandolin, use a knife but do your very best to keep the slices a thin and even thickness. I think that’s the key to making these apple chips work.
Lay the apple slices on parchment paper on your cookie sheets, put them in the over and bake for 40 minutes.
Flip the apples and bake for another 30 minutes.
Let them cool and enjoy!
My Oven Dried Apple Chips came out kind of crispy on the edges with chewy centers. They have a delicious concentrated apple flavor. Yum!