Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pressed Leaves

Apart from pumpkins, corn mazes, and apples, I love the leaves of fall. I love green and I love the trees being green, but when they turn the different shades of yellow, orange, red, and brown I can't help but love it too. Unfortunately, fall in the south is short. We tend to have longer summers so by the time it starts to cool off its suddenly winter. If we are lucky, the leaves will last about 2-3 weeks. Sometimes the leaves change and fall over night. I'm not kidding. Last year when the majority of the leaves changed, they were gone the next day. However, there is a way to save these leaves!

I honestly prefer to press leaves and place them in a frame. I did this to a number of leaves last year, most of which I sold or gave as gifts, and they still have their colors. By framing them, I ensure that they will be intact for next year and I won't have to spend money buying new supplies and hunting down new leaves, not that I'm not always on the look out for new ones.

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Above are some dipped leaves. They look wonderful, I must admit, but cost more to make. I only spend $1 on a frame and press the leaves in one of my text books. Furthermore, dipped leaves are more likely to be damaged during storage and will therefore have to be replaced the next fall. However, if you wish to try this method, Martha Stewart has a great tutorial.

Now on to the pressing! This is actually VERY simple and you only need 3 things! Unfortunately I haven't been able to find my leaves. I believe they ended up being donated a during our move. I actually just figured this out, thinking they were in a box this whole time. Looks like I'm going to have to make some new ones. This means that I don't have any pictures of my own and I apologize.

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Supplies

Photo Frame (as many as you want)
Brightly colored fall leaves
Large book for pressing

Optional- Wax paper. I don't put any in my book with leaves, but flower petals tend to stain so I use it then. Also optional, card stock or construction paper.

Directions

Pick your leaves. Perferabally, pick leaves that have already fallen. If you must pick a leaf from a tree, thank the tree for allowing you to have its leaf.

Place the leaf (or leaves) in the back of the large book. If you are using wax paper, protect the pages with the paper before adding the leaves. Allow to sit for 1-3 weeks depending on the pressure. I tend to stack other large things on top of the book so it only takes 5-7 days to press. Use your discretion.

Remove the leaves and place in a frame. I put white backgrounds in the back of mine, but black will look great too. The white background is seriously the insert turned around. If you want to add your own background, you will need card stock or construction paper.


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Finally display!


What do you like to do with your fall leaves?

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Luminaries

I apologize for the late posting, but you can't get a great pictures of your pumpkins lit up when its bright and sunny outside!

I love carving pumpkins. I'm not sure what it is about it, but its one of my favorite Halloween activities. When we finished our pumpkin luminaries, the Mortician actually looked at me and said he loves carving pumpkins too. This doesn't seem shocking until you know this is the same guy that last year was dismayed by the fact they he would have to touch the pumpkin guts. He was very upset that he was required to do it, but he managed. This year, he had no problem. I guess throwing someone into the fire when they have a phobia sometimes works!


Anyway! We haven't completed all of our pumpkins yet, but we did manage to do our luminaries. There are four in all, but because I couldn't get the last candle lit, there are only three in the final picture. So, how can you make these for your self?

Supplies

3-4 small pumpkins (I bought mine at Walmart for 78 cents a pound)
Craving knife
Small kitchen knife or drill
Spoon
Container for guts and a tray for seeds if you wish to bake them

Directions


First, hallow out the pumpkins. Make sure to cut a niche in the lid so you know which way it sits. Also, make sure to cut the lid at an angle so it doesn't fall into the pumpkin later.


Next, figure out your pattern. I like large holes randomly placed around the pumpkin. You may only want to put small holes along the groove. What ever floats your boat. Just make sure there are enough holes to allow a flame to breathe.


When you've finished making your design, sprinkle some cinnamon in the lid. This makes for a very pleasant smell when a candle is lit.

Finally, place a candle inside and light it up and enjoy being able to see your steps or pathway.


This is a great way to light the way to your house for the Trick-Or-Treaters on Halloween night and it looks beautiful and festive. I honestly feel pumpkin luminaries are safer than paper bag ones. I know there are ones with a special coating, but I still don't want to risk it. Pumpkins are harder to turn over and won't catch on fire

How do you light your path for Halloween?

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Harvest Apples

 

Well, its another Tasty Tuesday and I have another apple recipe for you guys! Unfortunately I was unable to take my own pictures of the process so I will be using my inspirations pictures instead. Sad really, but I was in a hurry when I made these yesterday and bagged them up before the Mortician even got home to take pictures!

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This recipe is modified from Fake-It-Frugal by Heather Bea. Each week, Heather introduces new ways to 'fake' designer pillows, accents, foods, cleaners, etc in order to save money yet still have wonderful and great things! I love her ideas, most of which are inspired by window shopping!

Anyway, her recipe didn't quite work for me, so I had to modify it.

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs apples (I used Rome apples which are softer and sweeter)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger

2 tbsp corn starch for sauce

Directions


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Slice up the apples. Unfortunately, I do not have an apple slicer like Heather so I had to do it by hand.

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Put your apples, sugar, and spices in crock pot. Pour water over the sugar to dissolve it. Let cook for between 2 and 4 hours. Since I used Rome apples which are softer, it only took 2 hours before they wanted to turn into mush. I probably could have turned off the heat after an hour and a half but I got distracted. Make sure to stir every hour to get the juices flowing and allow the apples to cook evenly.

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When the apples are done, strain the sauce into a sauce pan. Heather used a turkey baster. I personally just threw the apples into a strainer and let the sauce drain into the pot.

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Add the corn starch to the sauce, turn on medium heat, and whisk until thick yet still creamy. It should stick to the spoon but still run off. If you are like me and cooked it too long, you can add some more water to get the right consistency. Don't mess up too many times though! If you do, you'll end up watering down the sauce. Pour the sauce over the apples and enjoy or bag them up and freeze them!

I ate a small helping just to make sure it was too my liking. The rest I bagged once cool, labeled, and stuck in my freezer for later. Mine don't taste exactly like Stouffer's Harvest Apples which I LOVE, but these are great, cheaper, and healthier! In the freezer, these guys should last about a year if they even last that long!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did.

I am on the look out for one more apple recipe, preferably not apple pie. I'm going to make apple cider on Thursday so that is also off the list. Have any recipes you would like me to try? Any ideas?

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Halloween Tree

Today is the day I get to post my beautiful Halloween Tree! I have been holding back on posting so it could be the one of my party posts! I have to say, I'm very proud of my tree and it only cost me around $10 to make! That is pretty fantastic in my opinion.


Please excuse my dirty kitchen in the back ground. Hehe!
First, I collected some branches from my back yard. Since I couldn't find one solid branch that I loved, I pieced together several into a form I liked and secured them with a rubber band. Next I gave the branches a lovely coat of black spray paint to give them a more spooky feel.


Using a large cast iron cauldron I bought a year ago at a flea market, I placed a Styrofoam floral cube (not the soft ones that hold water) in the bottom and stuck the branches deep into it. Since there was a lot of room left around the cube and the cauldron walls, I stuffed the sides with pine straw. I finished the look by covering the pine straw and foam with decorative moss I purchased at Micheal's Craft Store and stringing fuax spider webs along the branches.


Of course, you can't have a real Halloween tree without ornaments! Since I have been hoarding toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls, I decided creating my own ornaments from these would be cheap and easy! The Mortician and I decided on pumpkins, cats, bats, and basic green orbs to adorn our tree with.

First, I flattened the rolls and measured out 1/2 inch sections. Next I cut along these measurements creating several 1/2 inch flattened sections for my ornaments.

 

Next I covered the ornaments in primer since cardboard sucks up paint like no other.


After they were dry, I painted my sections orange, green, and black. For the pumpkins, I painting 5 sections each and only 3 sections for the cats, bats, and orbs. I made sure to separate each ornament out so I knew how many I would have of each. I ended up making 3 pumpkins, 6 green orbs, 4 bats, and 4 cats.


I let them dry for about 20 minutes before breaking out the glue. For the pumpkins, I cut two sections to form the sides of the pumpkins and left 3 in tact. For the orbs, bats, and cats, I glued two sections together and let them dry before gluing on the third section. I secured each area containing glue to make sure the ornaments held together.


Once dry, I added the last sections to the orbs, bats, and cats. While drying, I drew bat wings and ears on black card stock. The wings and ears need to have a little extra added to them so you can fold a section back and attach them with glue to the ornament. Using glitter glue, I drew faces on the cats and bats. Using fishing line, I stung the ornaments up and added them to my tree! Pretty simple!

 


Do you have a Halloween tree? Did you make or buy your ornaments? If you made your own, what did you use to make them? I am on the look out for new ideas for next year so I can continue to add to my tree!


Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Cranberry and Apple Crumble

 

To start off the apple recipes for the season, I looked up some new dessert recipes. My mom always starts making apple pie this time of year, and I honestly wanted to try something new since we eat apple pie EVERY year. While looking for fall recipes in general, I came across a cranberry and apple crumble recipe I wanted to veganize. The result? Fan-freaking-tastic!


Ingreidents

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chilled vegan margarine, cubbed
6 cups peeled and sliced apples
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (we didn't use either. I used Crasins since they are sweeter)
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tbsp cornstartch

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine flour, 1/4 cup sugar, brown sugar, and butter and mix with your finger tips (or in a food processor) until pea size crumbles form. I suggest doing this is a chilled bowl or food processor. I did not, and I ended up with a batter instead of crumbles. It made covering the crumble very difficult.
Combine apples and cranberries in another bowl.
Mix juice and remaining 2 tbsp sugar and cornstarch. Pour over fruit and mix together.
Spoon fruit mixture into 2 quart baking dish and sprinkle with crumble mixture. I sprinkled the fruit with a tiny bit more sugar before adding the crumbles to the top, but its up to you. I like it to be slightly tart and mostly sweet.
Bake for 40 minutes.
Let cool and enjoy!

This is a really great recipe that you can make in no time. The longest part was peeling the apples, which the Mortician did as I got everything else ready. It made the work a lot faster so if you can have someone help you peel, recruit them.

This recipe is slightly tart, which I love, and followed excellently after my vegan "beef" stroganoff. Honestly, this would be a great dessert following any fall dinner recipe, or reheated as a snack in the afternoon. We ate half of it the first night it was that good. If you do not eat it all, refrigerate it since the fruit will start to go bad, as with any fruit dessert. Just reheat when you are ready to enjoy again. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Monday, October 3, 2011

Burlap Wreath

Today has already been crazy. I woke up with a bloody nose after a night of unrestful sleep. When I finally managed to make it downstairs to my computer, I was greeted by a message from AT&T saying my internet was not working. After much deliberation, I finally called to find out that the internet is down in our area and will probably not be up until tomorrow. Awesome! I am now sitting in the library down the road trying to catch up on my work and keep myself distracted from the hunger I am now feeling. Worst part? I just got here about 5 minutes ago and I'm already starving. I just ate too! Figures!

I was originally going to post a different art project today, but I do not have the pictures with me so I am bumping one up. Instead of my book decorations, I am going to show you my Halloween wreath I made a couple weeks ago. The idea was originally inspired by Craftaholics Anonymous's wreath. Honestly, I only liked the burlap since it gave the wreath the look of feathers. Knowing the burlap would only cost me about $4, I decided this was probably the best route to go instead of buying feathers.


What You Will Need:
1 yard black bulap
1 1/2 inch think foam tubing (found at Home Depot or Lowes)
Scissors
Decorative accent (in this case skulls)
Wood Glue or Hot Glue
Measuring Tape
Duct Tape

First, cut the foam tubing to the size that you want. The larger you make your wreath, the more likely it is to sag. Once cut, duct tape the ends together. If you use silver duct tape, you are going to need to paint the tape black. If you use a foam wreath frame instead of the tubing, you will also need to paint it black too.

Cut the burlap into one inch strips that are 16 inches long. I didn't use the whole yard of burlap. Just cut until you are able to completely cover the wreath. Tie each strip around the form until covered.



Glue your accent to the wreath and let dry. If using wood glue, sit something on top of the accents to make sure they hold. I also used paperclips that I unfolded and cut to stick my foam skulls together.


As I mentioned before, the larger the wreath, the more likely it is to sag using the foam tubing as you can see in the picture below.


To fix this, I tied fishing line to the bottom and wrapped it tightly around the top until it formed a circle again. You may also notice some fading. Its been 3 weeks and the burlap is almost orange. I'm not really sure how to stop this. I have been thinking about giving it a touch up using black spray paint, but I don't want to get it on the skulls. We'll just have to see.

If you have a tip for keeping the burlap black, please let me know! Otherwise, I say keep it inside if you don't want it to discolor.

I hope you have enjoyed my wreath! Do you have a wreath on your door? What does it look like?

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

PS:  This is something special just for you guys. This is our Manx, Thanatos, "helping" me cut the burlap.


It must feel good because he rolled around on it for over and hour. =D Silly kitty!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Decorating for Halloween on the Cheap

As I mentioned in my first post for "31 Days of Halloween," this is the first year I am personally decorating my own place. This being the case, I have had to acquire some Halloween decorations, at least enough to make the house feel like Halloween.

As you may have guessed from the title, I am doing this on a budget. With only the Mortician working and our desire to pay off our debt quickly, we don't have much money left over for decorations or anything else for the matter. So how am I doing it?

1. Shop at Dollar Stores and for Sale Items

First of all, I shop at the Dollar Tree. So far you have seen my mantle, floral arrangement, and birdcage, but each of these has been decorated using stuff I bought at the Dollar Tree. The fall leaf garland I purchased is roughly 4 feet long. I have so far bought four links, spending a grand total of $4 on garland. I found the same garland in a pack of two at Big Lots for $5 a package. So $10 or $4? I think I'll take the $4!


The ravens? Also from the Dollar Tree. I only purchased two, obviously, but that was all I needed for this year. After buying them, we visited the Party City next door. The same ravens were for sale there for around $2 each. Spend $2 or $4? I'm going with $2 again on this one!



The same goes for the fall floral arrangement. I bought three springs for $3. The same looking sprigs cost between $2 and $5 at Micheal's; clearly the Dollar Tree is a better option.


I have several other decorations I picked up from the Dollar Tree too, including a gargoyle statue, pumpkin spice candle, ceramic pumpkin, and spider webbing. Comparing them to Michael's and Target, I saved between $15-$20 by shopping at the Dollar Tree. I'll show you what I've done with each later in the month.


2. Get Creative

Making your decorations is also a great way to save. I have currently made a wreath and a Halloween tree with ornaments, all for a few dollars. Again, these will be posted later in the month, but I'll give you totals now. The wreath cost $12 dollars to make. To get anything remotely similar and around the same size would cost over $20. My Halloween tree and decorations? I only spent $5 making it. Comparing to one in the store, I've saved at least $30, but its probably a lot more.


Just get creative when it comes to the holidays. You needn't buy everything nor buy the most expensive stuff to decorate. Can't think of anything? Go to the stores and see what they are selling. Most of the stuff you can easily make. For example, a 3 pumpkin felt runner from Target costs around $6. You can make it for less than $2 by buying some felt, cutting out the shapes, and stitching them together. No reason to spend so much money for something so simple!

3. Shop Day After Sales

I have never been able to do this, simply because I've never had a reason to spend money on decorations I had no use for. However, this year I plan to get up early and shop the day after sale for Halloween decorations. Each year I'd like to add more items to my collection. However, only buy things you plan on using. There is no point is saving a bunch of money on a item you never plan on using. In the end, you are just wasting money. If you don't love it, don't buy it!

How are your decorations coming along? How do you save money? Are there any particular stores you think have the best deals? Let us know!

Look Alive!
<3 The Mortician's Wife

Horrific Horrors: My Favorite Halloween Movies

I am sorry for the lack of post yesterday. I had planned on posting in the afternoon, but was unable to. Yesterday morning I drove over to my parents to go garage saling with my mom. Afterwards, I helped her with her art class before we set off again to visit a few more sales. While out, I became really ill and had to leave, driving the 45 minutes home with a container between my legs. Fun stuff. Worst part was I had an interview last night at 4 which I did not think I was going to make. However, I did manage to make it, and I have my last interview today at 3:30. Everything has gone really well so far, so I am hoping I'll get the job. By the time I got home, ate dinner, and did everything else, I was too tired and feeling too bad to post so I just went to bed. I promise to make it up to you today though.

Yesterday's post was supposed to be about my favorite Halloween films, which is what I am going to post now! Today's post will follow later this afternoon. I'm still feeling crummy so bear with me.

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Every year, I like to break out a select few movies to watch during the Halloween season. Most of them are kid movies, but I still love watching them. I can't say I have a particular film that is my favorite regarding Halloween, so this list is in no particular order.

Hocus Pocus- I grew up watching this with my mom and it's still a favorite. So funny and brimming with Halloween. We actually got a costume idea from it, so if we manage to have a party this year, the Mortician will use the idea.

Scooby Doo on Zombie Island- This is my FAVORITE Scooby Doo movie. For once, the zombies and ghosts are actually real, but are trying to help, not harm. Well written and animated.

Practical Magic- I actually watch this film all year, but it is great for Halloween and fairly accurate regarding paganism. I will say that no witch brings back the dead or anything like that. Just saying.

Corpse Bride- I know this is a fairly recent film, but the whole idea of the film is Halloween. Johnny Depp is wonderful in this movie and Tim Burton's story and claymation is fantastic. I great film for most ages. This may scare toddlers.

Nightmare Before Christmas- Another Tim Burton claymation, but this is probably his best. This is not a children's movie, nor was it ever intended to be. The film was made for young adults, high school age and older. I love the idea of Halloween taking over Christmas. We need this revolution now because Christmas is already taken over the Halloween section in most stores. I don't understand it. For example, at Home Goods, they had their Halloween decorations out for 3 weeks. It is now replaced with Christmas and before September was even over. Ridiculous.

The Halloween Tree- This was an animated movie based on Ray Bradbury's book and came out on Cartoon Network in 1993. I was 5 when this movie premiered, but scenes from it have stuck with me through the years. Four friends attempt to rescue their friend Pipkin who is "dying" after trying to steal a pumpkin from the Halloween Tree. In order to save him, the four friends must learn the history of Halloween. This aired, I think, two years around Halloween before being pulled. You can buy the DVD on Amazon for a hefty price, or you can watch it here where someone has kindly uploaded the whole movie in parts on YouTube. Ray Bradbury actually narrates it, making it a fantastic film. If I had to choose, this would probably be my favorite.

And finally, any scary movie will do during the Halloween season. I don't have any particular ones I watch each year, but if its scary, I tend to watch it around Halloween.

What are some movies you love watching each year? I'd love to know, especially if it is one I haven't seen! Oh and just a fun fact, three of those movies came out in 1993, when I was 5 years old. Hocus Pocus, The Halloween Tree, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. =)

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife
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