Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Preview

My kids are dressing as minions from Despicable Me for Halloween this year. Neely has expressed some apprehension about wearing hers, so I decided we needed a trial run. Once Aidan had his on, she wanted hers. We're one minion short, but they're adorable! They may be the best Halloween costumes ever!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

Last week, I made pumpkin bread. I shared a picture on Instagram and gave some to the kids' teachers, and I've had several requests for the recipe. This comes from Paula Deen's The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook.

Pumpkin Bread
(Yields 2 regular loaves or 9-10 mini loaves)

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce instead)
4 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I leave these out)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans. Mix sugar and oil with mixer. Add eggs and blend. Add pumpkin and blend. Add water and blend. Combine remaining ingredients and add slowly. Fill pans equally and bake for 1 hour (less for mini loaves - mine were done in 45 minutes) or until golden brown.

Friday, October 21, 2011

PD's Southern Cooking Bible

Who's already gone out and added one of these to your cookbook collection?

Does the inside happen to look like this?

If your name is Jamie Owens, shut your mouth. I already know the answer to the question.

Here's how it all went down. Thursday is lazy day around here. I usually stay in my pajamas or gym clothes as long as possible, which is sometimes bedtime, when I change into clean pajamas. ;) Yesterday, it was gym clothes, in case you were wondering. 

I had just finished baking Mrs. Paula's pumpkin bread from her first The Lady & Sons cookbook. I couldn't make that up if I wanted to. There's evidence on my Instagram and Facebook. Anyway, I opened up my Facebook and saw my sister-in-law's post that Paula Deen would be signing cookbooks at our Wal-Mart yesterday. From some of the other folks' comments, I thought I'd already missed it. I called Jamilla up anyway. (She'll be thrilled that I called her that.) The real scoop was that the signing began at 6pm, and I hadn't missed it. 

I had a very long internal debate about whether or not to try and go. Honestly? I really didn't want to put on real pants and make-up. Ultimately, Paula won. If I'll put on pants and make-up for you on my lazy day, you know you're important.

We got there right at 6pm, and the store was almost out of books. We were close(ish) to the back of the line, so we got to weave through women's clothing, jewelry, toys, hardware, and the garden center before we got a glimpse of Mrs. Paula.

I killed a lot of time doing things like this...

There was also lots of chasing her through the store, playing peek-a-boo, don't drop the baby, and I'm pretty sure this girl needs a Rockin' Mickey for Christmas after the amount of times she wanted to watch the demo. Someone had even set up a camping chair in front of it. Lucky for us!

Part of the way through the line, we got to meet this guy. 

He seems so quiet whenever he makes appearances on Paula's TV show, but Mr. Michael was very friendly and personable. Ellyce wasn't sure what to make of him. I'm pretty sure she was scared. She'd been trying to bolt out of my arms until we were talking to him, and she just froze until we walked away again. He uses the word "darling" a lot. I love it!

After much more that was not photo-worthy, we made it! What did I say to Paula Deen? I said, "Hi." And she also said, "Hi." Of all the things I could say to this woman, I completely froze. I could have told her about how when I got married all I knew how to cook were scrambled eggs, egg salad, and my mom's poppyseed chicken casserole until I started watching her show and bought her cookbook. I could have told her that more pages in that cookbook are stained than not, I've used it so much. I could have told her she looks as beautiful in person as she does in pictures and on my television. But I didn't. I just grinned like the cheshire cat and moved on, because her security was intimidating the you-know-what out of me! I didn't even manage a decent picture. Oh, well. I have a good memory and an autograph to prove I've met a celebrity who has actually had a positive impact on my life. 

Because let's face it, y'all. Eating is important! 

P.S. John had also made a request for Bisquick while I was at the Wal-Mart, because he made her sausage balls after I got home! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween decorations are up!

I finally got my Halloween decorations put up! I did a fall transition mantel that was mostly pumpkins and candy corn, and I didn't like it. Halloween is now in full effect. Well, mostly. I'll probably add a few surprises just before Halloween. 

I loved the deco mesh wreaths on my front doors so much that I decided to make a giant purple and black one for the mantel. My intent had been to do more apothecary jars and creepy stuff. Ultimately, I decided to wing it and use things I had around the house (or that were cheap), and I like it!

I found that glittery skull for $2.50 in the cheap stuff section of my Target store and balanced him atop an old weathered candlestick that I haven't used in a while. I salvaged a couple of old empty wine bottles and attached some spooky labels that I found on Amazon for under $5. I always have empty jars lying around, so I also filled a couple with bouncy eyeballs and plastic spiders that also came from Target.

I found those adorable printables for free! Here's Keep Calm and Scary On, and here's Eat, Drink, and Be Scary. They may be my favorite part of the whole mantel. 

Does anyone else decorate with candy corn? I love it. It, thank goodness, is also cheap, because it took a whole lot to fill that jar. My purple owl friend was originally white and found at Marshall's for $4. I wanted him to look more Halloween-y, so I spray-painted him - or I guess her, really - purple.

That's it, folks! Halloween at the Owens casa so far. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Thirty-One for the Holidays

Tomorrow, I am participating in my first holiday show as a Thirty-One consultant. There are going to be several vendors there, and I've been trying to revamp my display to give people ideas for how to use our products as gifts. I'm using you as my guinea pigs, so please tell me what you think. 

First, I used one of our littles carry-all caddies to create a spa gift basket. The caddy is the wrapping. Add a pretty tag and bow, and it's ready! I found a pretty bottle of lotion and soap at Marshall's and grabbed a pack of loofahs at the dollar store. Here it is out of the basket...

...and in the basket. This is the tailored stripe print. I love the black and white with the hot pink handles. Adorable.

Next, I put together a movie basket. I put a DVD, some popcorn containers from the dollar store, a cute jar of candy from Marshall's, and a couple bags of microwave popcorn in a littles carry-all. This print is called Winter Wonderland. It would be cute to have a box of tissue hanging out in this one around the holidays, too. So, in the caddy...

...Out of the caddy. You could stick a movie theater gift card in the mesh pocket on the outside of the caddy if you're feeling really generous. 

This is the last one I used the littles carry-all for. It's a coffee lover's basket. All I put in this one is an acrylic travel mug (one of my Neely Bug Boutique holiday mugs, of course), a pound of coffee, and a bottle of flavored syrup that I found at the dollar store. Not only is it surprising how much I managed to fit in these little caddies, I was also surprised at how much awesome stuff I found at the dollar store! In...

...and out. :)

I used a larger tote for the next one. This is Thirty-One's all-in-one organizer. You could call this one the baker's bag, or cook's tools. I got a package of wooden spoons from the dollar store, but I removed them from the ugly package and tied them up with a pretty ribbon. I also put some dish towels and scone mix that I found at Marshall's inside. For the show, I'm also going to put a cookbook in there. I forgot to do it before taking these pictures. Whoops! 

The all-in-one organizer is in Thirty-One's Windsor Bouquet print. Love.

This is the last one. I used another all-in-one organizer, Paparazzi Dot, and turned it into a traveler's tote. I filled it with holiday magazines, crossword and sudoku books, a new journal, and a couple of fun snacks...and there's still room to spare! For a teenager, you could add a handheld game. For a younger child, you could do coloring books and crayons or markers instead of magazines and puzzle books. You could even fit some small toys in there. Now that I think about it, my kids are totally getting their own travel bags the next time we take a trip. 

I'm hoping that these ideas spark my customers' imaginations at all the holiday shows I have coming up. What do you think? Any additional suggestions?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Soccer Game

Aidan had his first soccer game yesterday. After having to practically drag him to all his practices, I wasn't sure how it would go. I shouldn't have worried. He was so excited he was practically vibrating all day long. His team - the Dragons - didn't win, but it was a fun first game.

Here's my little guy warming up.

Let the game begin!

A couple of adorable little spectators. After about five minutes in, Ellyce had all the key phrases down..."Come on!" "Go!" "Ball!" It was precious.

Look at them run. Mine's at the back of the pack.

Photographic proof. He touched the ball. :)