Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Caramel Apple Spice Drink-AKA Apple pie in a Cup

caramel Apple drink

Last year I fell in love with a Starbucks drink called Caramel Apple Spice. Oh my!!!! It is like a little slice of heaven. Close your eyes and imagine a warm apple pie with whipped topping and caramel syrup drizzled on top. You are sitting in your favorite comfy chair with a blanket over your legs (feet propped up) a fire blazing and this drink in your hands. Oh and you can imagine that the kids are with Grandma for the day. ;)

I last year I started a new tradition. At Thanksgiving I made these for dessert. It was the new favorite for just about everybody. If you like spiced cider, whipped cream and caramel then you will LOVE this.

We also served this at Erika’s baby shower last December. We dubbed it “Apple pie in a Cup.”

Cinnamon syrup (You can buy it from Starbucks)
Apple juice or Apple cider
Whipped cream
Carmel syrup drizzled on top

Pour Apple Juice or Apple Cider into your mug and stir in about 1 teaspoon of the Cinnamon syrup. Heat in the microwave to desired temperature. Top with whipped cream and drizzle caramel syrup on top. Enjoy!
This recipe is from CDKitchen for Starbucks' Caramel Apple Cider serves/makes 1

By the way Starbucks does sell the syrup in a sugar free version. You can also get the caramel in sugar free too.

They have it on their menu in the fall and winter months so you should be able to get the syrup now.



Anjeanette here. Oh my! This is HEAVEN in a mug. I wanted to point out that you can do this for a bunch of people. When Katrina did this for Erika's shower, she put the cinnamon syrup and the apple cider in a crock pot to warm. Then serve individual servings, add the whipped cream and drizzle the caramel sauce on top. While you are at it, serve up another one and enjoy it for me. Sadly I can't have them anymore. Now I am going to curl up and cry. This is THAT good!

Falling for Fall

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pumpkin cookies from a box mix – even for people with food allergies

gluten free pumpkin cookies

When Fall hits here in Arizona, I have to do things to help me put myself in the Fall mood. We were still in the hundreds today…I’m talking about the temperature! It is hard to remember it is Fall with heat like this. The first thing I usually do is adjust our menu to include more root vegetables, and baked chicken and even dip into pumpkin cookies. Oh yah. I’m talking about you Mr. Pumpkin. You are not just for carving faces into my friend.

Just like my 3 year old, I also have Eosinophilic Esophagitis. I try really hard to omit wheat /gluten, dairy, soy, beef, nuts, tree nuts, and really go easy on eggs too. I like to bake. I love the smell of some delish sugary confection baking in my oven. Heaven. As you could imagine, my EE doesn’t leave a lot of sweets in my diet. Well, not sweets that won’t make me sick.

I used to always make sure that I had at least one cake mix and one cookie mix on hand for those last minute play dates or childhood emergencies that would call for fresh baked cookies a.s.a.p.! Our paternal Grandma always has the best-tasting-really-bad-for-you- recipes in her baking arsenal. Years ago she sent us all a package with all kinds of fall recipes. You know, church ladies kind of recipes. Yah, you know what I’m talking about now. Recipes smothered in gravies and cheese and other items that should never really be considered a real food, but we still put it in our dinner-kind of recipes. (How is that for a sentence?!) Wowza. My favorite was Spice Cake Pumpkin Cookies. Oh yah! Now we are talking. You know, you take a box mix of Spice Cake, and a can of pumpkin and mix it into heavenly yumminess. But, oh how a regular cake mix would make my insides hurt for a good two weeks.

I don’t have to suffer anymore!! Enter Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cake Mix. Oh yah, a gluten free cake mix in a box at a regular grocery store! I’m sure you could do this with Pamela’s or Bob’s cake mixes the same way. But sometimes you just need convenience my friends.

Now don’t look away my non-allergy friends. You too can make this with regular processed and packaged goods. You go buy yourself a regular cake mix or a regular spice cake mix, a can of pumpkin and some chocolate chips. You make it just the same way. And you non-allergy friends have a less gummy cookie. Mmmm.

gluten free pumpkin cookies from a mix

  • 1 package spice cake mix (I used Betty Crocker’s gluten free)
  • 1 (15 oz) can solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie stuff ‘cause that contains other stuff, yes I am getting technical on you here.)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used 1/3 cup Enjoy Life chips which are dairy, soy and gluten free)
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla (I have homemade from liquor that I am not allergic to)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease your cookie sheet.

Mix your cake mix, pumpkin and chocolate chips. drop onto the cookie sheet. I flaten mine with a fork and sprinkle some sugar on mine. If you have Turbinado or Raw Sugar (or even just regular ol sugar) sprinkle some of that on top. Who doesn’t love some crunch on top of their cookies? Wait, don’t answer that.

Bake for about 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

These are more cake like than just a hard cookie.

Other variations could be:

add 1/2 cup raisins

add about 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 1/3 cup molasses to make a more ginger-bready kind.

I did the first batch with some added pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. The second (darker two) batch, I added the molasses. Both were good in their own right.

Last year, I used regular ol’ spice cake mix and pumpkin. I scooped some of the dough into my mini muffin tin.

pumpkin cookies

Then I added some of these babies.

pumpkin for cookies

I think it was called Pumpkin Spice something or other. I got them at Target. They had a white chocolate kind of inside to them. I made the cookies this way because I thought it was like a twist to the peanut butter cookies with a kiss in each. This was over the top creamy-ness. If I told you I didn’t eat a ton of them, I would be lying. I would also need to confess they made me really sick. Oh my allergy overload. I learned my lesson! But you non-allergy friends who like white chocolate would likely enjoy this.

Enjoy your fall and make some quick cookies! Gluten-free or regular cake mix is up to you! I like having options;)


Falling for Fall

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Reversible Quilt Coat for a Dog

My Mel in her new quilt coat

I have an old dog with lots of aches and pains. This year I decided she could benefit from a coat to keep her joints warm.

I found a fantastic tutorial that shows you how to make a dog coat out of a woman’s jacket. What a great way to recycle! Using a woman’s coat to make a dog coat is brilliant! Go HERE to get the coat pattern.

Thank you Diana for allowing me to use your pattern and post about it here.

I decided to use the pattern to make a Halloween quit coat that reverses to have a side that would be for Christmas.

Making my Halloween quilt template…

Once you have printed out your coat pattern and adjusted the size you will need to:

1. Measure the width of the back coat panel (not including the straps).

2. Decide how much of the width you want your quilt blog to cover.

3. Be sure to account for the border strip that will go around the center block. Mine was a finished border of 1 inch. My cut fabric was 1 1/2 inches to allow for 1/4 inch seams.

4. Be sure to allow for 1/4 to 1/2 inch seam allowances. Your finished quilt block will be smaller than the original template.

5. Cut a square piece of paper to the size you decided upon.

1 pattern fold into 3rds

6. Fold your paper in thirds. I have marked my folds so that you can see them.

2 pattern fold other side in 3rds

7. Fold the other side into thirds.

3 pattern diagonals through the center

8. Draw diagonal lines from the corner of the middle sections through the center point to the opposite middle corner. Do the same with the other center section.

4 pattern basic templates

9. I have colored in the sections to make it look less confusing. For your template you will cut out one black corner section. For the candy corn template you will cut out one gray section.

10. For the Pumpkins I used the template from my Pumpkin Garland Tutorial. Use only half of the stem pattern. Set aside for now.

11. Measure the triangle from top to bottom and divide into thirds. Cut fabric strips adding 1/2 inch for seam allowances.

12. Sew the strips for your candy corn to make one long strip. Always iron seams to the darker fabric. Be sure seams are ironed flat.

Cut out your candy corn

13. Place your triangle template over your fabric strip. Be sure the tip of your triangle is over the fabric you want to represent as the top of your candy corn. I flipped the triangle for the next cut to make another triangle in the opposite pattern and am saving it for another project. Flip your triangle again and cut another candy corn. Keep working down the strip till you have 4 candy corns or have used up all of the fabric strip.

14. Sew each corner piece to one triangle. I recommend ironing the seams before sewing the next sections together. Keep sewing pieces together till you have the whole square. Iron it to make sure it lays flat.

inner quilt block

15. Trim your quilt block to make sure that it is square.

16. Sew on the trim fabric. Start with matching up the corner. The strip should be long enough to over hang at the end. The next strip will start at the edge of the previously sewn strip. Work your want around the quilt block. I found it helpful to iron the seams after I added each strip.

Pumpkins and sewable bond

17. Iron on a sewable adhesive to the back of your pumpkins and stems. Position your pumpkins on your quilt block and iron them down. Top stitch around the edges and sew in any details onto the pumpkins and stems.

Quilt block with pumpkins

18. Fold the raw edges of the trim fabric under and iron them down.

19. Appliqué your quilt block to your base fabric by: 1: Ironing on a sewable adhesive and or 2: top stitching the quilt block all the way around the edge on to the base fabric. If your quilt block didn’t turn out completely flat don’t use the sewable adhesive.

20. Assemble the layers of the coat with right sides together with the batting on one side. Sew around the edges, leaving an opening to turn it right side out.

Halloween side

21. Turn right side out and top stitch around the edge. For the center pattern I stitched over the seams (stitch in the ditch) and around the edge. For the straps I quilted a random cris-cross pattern with meandering lines.

Mel's Christmas Coat

Note: I chose to use a solid Christmas fabric of the reverse side to simplify things but a poinsettia quilt block would look lovely.


As always if you decide to make a quilt coat of your own, please let us know, we would love to see it. Pictures of your projects are always a welcome addition to our Flickr Group.

Diana, posted this wonderful write up on her blog about my dog coat. I am speechless... I simply can't thank her enough for making it so easy to make this coat.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Movie Star Themed Birthday Party

movie star party decorations boa lighting hanging popcornn

My daughter swears she is a Tomboy. To her, being a Tomboy is kind of like wearing a costume. It’s something to dress up as, and play pretend. I always let my kids choose the theme of their parties. She chose a Movie Star Theme. Can you guess who is nowhere close to being a Tomboy?

movie star party red carpet entrance

Welcome to the party! Guests walked up our “Red Carpet” runway. It was also the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as it had gold stars on it and then the kids put their handprints, in Black, next to the stars. We also had star confetti all over the walkway for extra “bling”. I have stakes that I use along my walkway for hanging holiday lanterns. I set those up and we strung out movie reel garland through it.

movie star party decorations boa lighting

We went with the colors Red, Black, and Gold. I found boas on sale and strung them up my hanging lights. I LOVED how this turned out!movie star party decorations pinata

Other decorations that were hung high were bought from the local party store. The party store had an amazing and extensive selection of everything for a movie themed party. The pinata was so cute! If you look carefully along the top of my sliding door there is more of that movie reel garland. I have a secret to tell you about it...It’s real! (haha, bad joke) No, seriously! We went to the movie theater and talked the manager into giving us real film from a movie. They gave us about 10 minutes worth from a movie (Pearl Harbor, oddly enough), and it was a TON. That’s what we strung along the front walkway. We used it all over the place and still had lots leftover! I love finding special tricks like that!

movie star party decoration treat bags

The treat bags were red, with gold vinyl names on them and then tied off with black bows. Have you seen Walmart’s party section lately? It’s a must see. They sell candy by the color! I had sixlets, gumballs, and malted milk balls. Then, I bought a giant bag of licorice, which isn’t just known for being a staple at the movies, it also color coordinated perfectly for my party! I love when things work out like that!

movie star party decorations treats

Sorry you can’t see the beautiful picture of my daughter there! I can’t even show you many of my decorations because they incorporate pictures of my daughter. However, I had to show you my mini movie reels. I made these up myself. I cut out the red and then glued that to black circles and glued that all onto peppermint patties. They were so cute.movie star party decorations labeled water

My kitchen island is always so much fun for me to decorate. There are a few decorations from the party store tucked in here. I cut strips of black and white patterned paper and then layered a thinner red strip on top. The red strip said Happy Birthday to my daughter. These bands I then taped around mini water bottles.

movie star party food table

This was my table. There was other food lurking around the kitchen (such as salsa and guacamole which are must haves at my parties!!). movie star party cupcakes

Did you notice those awesome cupcakes? You really should see them in person! My little sister (well, actually she’s bigger than me…but she is quite a bit younger than me so I can still say that!) made these for my daughter! Wasn’t that sweet? Oh, yes they were quite sweet and yummy! It’s hard to see but those stars were made of fondant and then had edible gold glitter on top which made them sparkle! So nice of her to do that for us!movie star party champagne sparkling jello

I got plastic champagne glasses and dolled them up by cutting up a boa and glueing it around the bottom of the glass. Then, I made sparkling jello to go in the cups. They were a huge hit, and I love how the boa looked on them.

movei star party star sandwiches

We ate star shaped sandwiches. Mmmm, I love swiss cheese!movie star party red popcorn coness

Using the same cute black patterned papers as I used on the water bottles, I made scalloped cones. I filled them with red jello popcorn that I made. So sticky, but yum! I put newspaper in the bottom of the basket as a filler, then covered that with tissue paper to hold the cones up. The boa along the rim of the basket finished it off perfectly.movie star party decorations boa lighting hanging popcorn

One of my favorite decorations was a hanging centerpiece. I always like to hang things from my chandelier over my dining room table. This time I had a fluffy boa with feathers (oh, I must tell you how much I really loved this). I dangled popcorn buckets filled with real popcorn, stars, and wires that I beaded in red, black, and gold.


PS Many fantastic people in my life helped me with this party! I had lots of ideas and got lots of decorations ready to go. Then, “my people” help me get it all put out! Not only do they do a great job figuring where and how to put stuff up, it makes it so much more fun to get ready for the party with people! You guys know who you are, so thank you!

We are joining the fun party at

Visit thecsiproject.com

Monday, September 21, 2009

A little blog updating

Last Friday I begged Rebecca to let her kids sleep over.

details of the wings and tree

My 7 year old had just received $5 and it was burning a hole in his pocket. Before the cousins came over, we ran to Michaels. What else do you do with money in your pocket? Craft stores are always the best choice….right? We picked up some Halloween ornaments for the kids to decorate.

The little red house

While the kids were painting away, I pulled out a long canvas and started painting too. Rebecca, Katrina, Erika and I have been talking about adding a header and button for a long time. With so many of us, it is harder to come to a consensus. We had a good idea of what we wanted about a month ago. With 5 kidlets at the house crafting, I HAD to craft with them, right?

Houses together

I just wanted to point out a few things that are meaningful to us about our header. The houses are made of fabric from our amazing grandmother! I originally thought the whole thing would be matchy matchy. And there was never a plan for the houses. But when I glanced over at my craft shelf and saw the material, I knew I had to use it. And I knew we needed houses. (I’m kind of obsessed with houses lately.) I have boxes and boxes of started quilts from grandma. The four houses are for each of us that participate on the blog. I kind of think of blog hopping as visiting with friends. I like to think that our houses are welcoming you to visit with us for a bit. And the tree is always life, and it shows the roots and wings. But really in my head as I was making this, the houses are more the roots and wings;) That is where the magic all happens. Just thinking about the little houses makes me warm and fuzzy. It is in our homes that we are building the traditions with our families. It is in our homes and with our families that is most important, to me at least.

Details of the houses

Part of what has taken so long to make this was I couldn’t find the right fabric for it. I had it in my head a specific way. When the cousins were all making things together, I decided I would paint more than I had originally planned.

It is a mixed media canvas with paper, fabric, paint and a sharpie pen. Oh and how I struggled not to put much to it. I am a more is more kind of girl.

Anyway, that is how our little header and button came to be. Katrina asked that I did some close ups so she could get a better feeling of it as it really is.

And one last thing, I think the red house is me. Just for the record.

  • Rebecca said the blue house is her, the pink one is me and then I can’t remember which one was Katrina and which one was Erika.
  • Katrina said she was the red house because it was a little further than the other three. She lives in Tucson while Erika, Rebecca and I live west of Phoenix.

So we may have to duke it out to determine who gets to live where…but the red one is me;)



Katrina here:

You guys are too funny with who wants to live where! I just want to live near great family and friends. I want to be able to visit and be close at heart. Though maybe I live the the crooked house with the red roof. ;)

Either way I LOVE it!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

White Chocolate Ghost Suckers

ghost suckers finished

White Chocolate Ghost Suckers are a must have for Halloween. It’s another one of those things that I have no idea when my Mom started doing this. I just know that she always made these for us, growing up. Of course that was in the days where you could bring homemade goodies to share with the class. My Mom was always the room Mother (well, truthfully I think she rotated through all 4 of us kids, but she’d still be there helping out even when she wasn’t THE room Mom). She would make these for all of us to give to our classmates. Once I moved out on my own, I started making these myself, as I couldn’t imagine having a Halloween without these!

They are so quick and easy, and cute! You will love them! Here is a template that you can use for your suckers.

ghost outlines for ghost suckers

Print out your template and gather your other supplies. You need white chocolate, mini chocolate chips, sucker sticks, and wax paper.

ghost sucker supplies

Place your ghost template underneath a sheet of wax paper. The wax paper can shift around on you so you might want to tape it down. I don’t find that necessary myself.

ghost sucker with wax paper

I melt my white chocolate in a ziplock baggie. I microwave it for 30 seconds and then squish the bag. Then, I microwave in 10 second increments until it becomes the right consistency. You want it thin so that it will run out of the bag easily. I then smoosh it all to one corner and snip off a tiny piece of the tip of the corner.

ghost sucker white chocolate in ziploc baggie

Next you just fill in the template using the white chocolate. Add the sucker stick about halfway up the ghost (stopping about at the ghosts “belly button”). You will have to twist the stick to make sure it is covered all the way in white chocolate.

ghost sucker filling in

Now you add 2 mini chocolate chips for the eyes. I have substituted M&Ms, or other things. But, trust me on this one, you want to use mini chocolate chips. They are so much cuter. I try to make the eyes look the same direction by making sure the tops of the chocolate chips go off to the same side.

ghost sucker filled in with eyes

Here are all my suckers filled in, eyes added, and sticks covered. Refrigerate them for about an hour before you pull them right off of the wax paper. They are ready to go. I like to put them in those cute cellophane bags and then tie them off with pretty ribbons. Since these are the first of the season though, they will just be for my kids and so no wrapping is necessary. You can make these ahead of time and just keep them in the refrigerator until you need them. I’m not sure how long chocolate stays good…I don’t think any lasts very long around my house. ;) ghost sucker setting up

I really hope you try this as it is one of my favorite treats at Halloween. Add pictures of yours to our flikr group!


PS Thanks Mom, for all the great traditions. You are such an inspiration to me, and have given me so many wonderful things to pass on to my own children, to make life more special. And you’ve given me so many great ways to celebrate with my children!

Falling for Fall


Katrina here… with an allergy friendly option.

chocolate Halloween shapes by you.

I made these with Gluten, Dairy, Nut and Soy Free chocolate chips from Enjoy life. The candies are also gluten and dairy free.

I simply used the bat template from Anjeanette’s Inspiration post and the a cat clip are from my Photoshop Elements program.

Thanks Rebecca for the inspiration for these!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pumpkin pencil topper AKA non-candy Halloween treats

Super Easy Halloween Pencil Topper

My 3 year old has EE and is primarily tube fed. Read: he can’t have candy. He also started preschool this year. He wants to participate in all the fun parties they do in class. One thing they do is bring in candy to share with the other classmates. Since he can’t have candy, I whipped up some cute and simple pencil toppers.

Felt is the easiest material to sew with. You don’t need to worry about fraying edges or fancy stitches. I whipped 25 of these up in an hour.

2 gather your supplies

  • pencils
  • orange, green and black felt
  • E-6000 glue
  • template

Super Easy Halloween pencil toppers

Rough cut two layers of orange and your template. Cut a green stem and sandwich it between your orange layers. Put your paper template on top.

tuck in green stem

Pin the layers making sure the stem is held in place.

pin layers

Shorten your stitch length. You are going to sew right through your paper and the short stitch length will make it easy for the paper to come off. (No, your needle does not like sewing on paper. You should change your needle often anyway.)

shorten stitch length

Sew right on top of the template. Follow the lines for the outside of the pumpkin. Do not sew around the stem, just where the stem and the pumpkin meet.

sew around lines

Your paper should easily pop right off because of the close perforations.

pop off paper template

Carefully trim around the stitches. Make sure that you do not cut through the green stem.

carefully trim around stitches

Cut your eyes and little smirk out of black felt.

cut out eyes and smirk

Using E-6000 and a toothpick, glue the face on. I like a little smirk, don’t you?

glue on face

Snip a small opening at the bottom of the backside. Be careful not to cut through both layers. This is where the pencil will go in.

snip small opening

Apply E-6000 around the eraser and shove the eraser into the pumpkin. I twist as I go and make sure not to get glue all over. Push the pencil up into the pumpkin.

apply glue around eraser

Give them out to your favorite preschoolers!

finished topper


Falling for Fall