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Monthly Archives: October 2012

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It’s October 31st!

If you are on the East Coast, your attention over the past few days has understandably been on Hurricane Sandy. It’s impact on Halloween this year has been tremendous, causing many cities in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York (NYC postponed the Halloween Parade), Pennsylvania and West Virginia (snow) to delay or cancel Halloween events. Trick or treating in many communities has been postponed until the weekend, so be sure to check your local newspaper to find out whether you should go out tonight.

If you are headed out tonight, stay safe! Make sure kids look both ways before crossing the road. Adults headed to Halloween parties: don’t drink and drive! I want to see you all back next year for year two of Funtober.

Happy Halloween!

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Jack O'Candy Jars

At this festive time of year, one of the most important decisions we all face is what to do with all the candy. You could hide it away in a drawer in a plastic bag, dust off that fancy dish, or plop it in a plastic pumpkin. Or, you can use it to turn glass jars into colorful little totes for your Halloween sweets.

Not only are they a good way to repurpose that rather large collection of empty jars that you just can’t bear to get rid of (you do that too, right?), they’d make a fun little pre-Halloween treat for somebody special. And when they’re empty? Add a tea light!

And the best part is that they’re so simple — a few twists of wire, a few strokes of the paint pen — which means you’ll be reaping the rewards (and satisfying that sweet tooth) in no time flat.

Jack O'Candy Jars - Materials

MATERIALS

  • Clear glass jar, cleaned and label removed
  • Aluminum floral wire, 12 gauge
  • Black paint pen
  • Wire cutters
  • Round pliers
  • Candy (such as candy corn, Reese’s Pieces, or M&Ms)

Jack O'Candy Jars

1. Measure the circumference of your jar just below the threaded area for the lid. Cut two pieces of wire whose length is equal to half the circumference plus 3 inches.

2. Bend both pieces of wire around the neck of the jar just below the threads, so that the ends overlap. Twist the overlapping pieces together to form a collar around the neck of the jar, leaving at least 1/2 inch untwisted.

3. Bend the twists upward.

4. Use the wire cutters to trim the excess of one end. Use the round pliers to bend the other end into a loop.

5. Cut another piece of wire that is equal to about three-quarters of the jar circumference. This will become the handle. (Make this longer or shorter as you see fit.)

6. Use the round pliers to bend each end of the handle into an open loop.

7. Bend the handle into a U shape. Use the jar to help you get an even curve.

8. Hook the loops ends of the handle into the loops on the collar. Use your fingers or pliers to close the handle loops.

9. Use the paint pen to draw a jack o’lantern face on the jar. Fill with candy!

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There’s two weeks until Halloween party season kicks into high gear. So I spent yesterday building massive lists of links to recipes for pumpkin drinks and Halloween cocktails. But what good are drinks without delicious food?

I happened upon a collection of pumpkin recipes. Started organizing them into different categories. My research obsession kicked in. Pretty soon, I had fifty recipes and I hadn’t even scratched the surface. So I kept hunting and organizing. I stopped at 2 AM last night and picked it back up this morning. My last count yielded 120 recipes and 8 recipe collections. But I’ve added a few since then. It is now time to hit publish and let you benefit from my research.

There’s something for every pumpkin fan in this list. From pumpkin pancakes to pumpkin ravioli to pumpkin tiramisu. The only thing I think that I’ve missed is a traditional pumpkin pie.

Bon Appetit!

 

Breakfast
Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting – Closet Cooking
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes – New South Food Company
Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes – Daily Garnish
Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Pancakes – Girl Cooks World
Pumpkin French Toast Bake – Minimalist Baker
Pumpkin Pie French Toast – Savour Fare
Pumpkin Pie French Toast – Zestuous
Vegan Pumpkin Cornbread Waffles – Minimalist Baker
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal – The Sweet Life
Vegan Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with Pumpkin Cream – Healthy Happy Life
Skinny Pumpkin Granola – Skinny Taste
Pumpkin Spiced Granola – Living Lou
Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal … To Go – The Curvy Carrot
Pumpkin Oatmeal – Jessie’s Kitchen Chronicles
Pumpkin Breafast Quinoa – Peanut Butter Fingers
Pumpkin Pie Biscotti – Sweet Pea’s Kitchen
Pumpkin Bagels – Honest Cooking
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls – Smitten Kitchen
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls – Une Gamine dans la Cuisine

Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin Donut Muffins – Brown Eyed Baker
Nutella Swirl Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins – The Messy Baker
Pumpkin Muffins with a Candied Walnut Streusel – Bakers Royale
Pumpkin Crumb Muffins – Eat at Allie’s
The Best Pumpkin Muffins – Trans-Planted
Pumpkin Muffins – The Spinach Spot
Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling – Stephen + Natalie
Rustic Pumpkin Pie Filled Pumpkin Muffins – Slim Pickin’s Kitchen
Nutella Swirl Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins – The Messy Baker
Pumpkin Apple Muffins with Snickerdoodle Topping – Baked by Rachel

Pumpkin Bread
Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Bread – Season with Spice
Pumpkin Spice Bread – Baking Bites
Pumpkin Bread Stuffed with Cookie Dough – Cake Spy
Delicious Pumpkin Bread – The 36th Avenue
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread – Little Blog on the Internet
Pull Apart Pumpkin Herb Bread – V.K. Rees Photography
Spiced Pumpkin Bread – The Moveable Feasts
Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread – Center Cut Cook
Spiced Honey Pumpkin Bread – The Flour Sack
Pumpkin Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread – Heather Christo Cooks

Pasta
Pumpkin Mac & Cheese – Emily Bites
Pumpkin Asiago Cream Sauce Over Halloween Bowtie Pasta – Purple Chocolat Home
Baked Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo – How Sweet It Is
Pumpkin Ravioli – Eat Yourself Skinny
Pumpkin Ravioli – Crispy Bits & Burnt Ends
Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce – Handle the Heat
Pumpkin Alfredo – Pastry Affair
Pumpkin Fettucine Alfredo – Camille Styles

Pumpkin Soups
Monty’s Pumpkin Soup – From Fast Food to Fresh Food
Roasted Pumpkin Butternut Soup – Dinnervine
Curried Pumpkin Soup with Bacon and Maple Onions – The Endless Meal
Roasted Pumpkin & Coconut Soup – The Lovely Pantry
Pumpkin Black Bean Soup – Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes
Warm Pumpkin Soup with Dumplings – Sensual Appeal

Other
Pumpkin Chili – The Gluten-Free Home Maker
Skinny Pumpkin Pie Dip – Back for Seconds
Pumpkin Hummus Dip – Diethood
Pumpkin Hummus – Gumshoe Gastronomy
Pumpkin Applesauce – Bakeaholic Mama
Chili Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – Queen of Quinoa
Pumpkin and Spinach Bread Cases – Baking Makes Things Better
Pumpkin Curry Risotto – Vegan Yack Attack
Southwestern Pumpkin Burgers – Fat Fighter TV
Pumpkin Sage and Spicy Sausage Pizza – Yum and Yummer

Pumpkin Desserts
Pumpkin and Chocolate Profiteroles – Foodness Gracious
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles – Gimme Some Oven
Pumpkin Pie Rice Krispie Treats – Sally’s Baking Addiction
Cinnamon Pumpkin Spice Kiss Blossoms – Bakergirl
Spiced Pumpkin Tart – The Family Kitchen
Pumpkin Tiramisu with Pumpkin Butter Caramel Sauce – Chocolate Moosey
Pumpkin Spice Kiss Blondies – Roxanna’s Home Baking
Healthy Pumpkin Pie Custard – Sugar-Free Mom
Pumpkin Spice Roll – Kitchen Simplicity
Deep Dish Pumpkin-Meringue Pie – Cupcakes and Cashmere
Nutella Swirled Pumpkin Pie – Sally’s Baking Addiction
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies – What’s Gaby Cooking
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies – Gluten Free on a Shoestring
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies – Cooking Classy
Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies – Bright Eyed Baker
Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Sugar & Orange Glaze – Daisy’s World
Pumpkin Brownies – The Misfit Baker
Pumpkin Butterscotch Blondies – The Baker Chick
Pumpkin Spice Latte Blondies – Pink Parsley
Pumpkin-Praline Mousse Cornucopias – Pizzazzerie
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies – The Girl Who Ate Everything
Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie – Hungry Hungry Hippie
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Gingersnap Crusts – Stephen + Natalie
Pumpkin Cheesecake Chocolate Cups – Kirbie Cravings
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger Cookie Crumble Crust – The Vegetarian Ginger
5 Ingredient Pumpkin Fudge – Oatmeal with a Fork
No Bake White Chocolate Pumpkin Fudge – Texanerin Baking
Skinny Pumpkin Banana Bars – Whipped Baking
Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Bars – A Cup of Mascarpone
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars – Culinary Cool
2 Ingredient Pumpkin Brownies – Cookies and Cups
Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Brownies – Harried Housewife Blog
Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies – Jo Cooks
Pumpkin Kiss Brownies – Buttercream Blondie
Pumpkin Tres Leches Cake – My Love for Cooking
Pumpkin Cake with Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting – A Healthy Life for Me
Pumpkin & Orange Ice Cream – The Honeyed Almond
Pumpkin Cookie Dough Ice Cream – Chocolate-Covered Katie
Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt – A Kitchen Muse
Pumpkin Pie Sundaes – Oh, Lady Cakes
Pumpkin Hazelnut Dump Cake – Eclectic Recipes
Biscoff Pumpkin Cheesecake – Oven Adventures
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Biscoff Buttercream – Real MOM Kitchen
Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes – Clockwork Lemon
Pumpkin Applesauce Cupcakes – Collecting Memories
Pumpkin Raisin Party Cupcakes – Get Cookinge Simply
Pumpkin Glazed Popcorn – Real Food Real Deals
No-Bake Pumpkin Butter Oat Bars – Healthy Food for Living
Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding – Baking in the Attic
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies – Averie Cooks
Pumpkin Yogurt Pound Cake – I Wash You Dry
Salted Pumpkin Caramels – Kitchen Vignettes
Pumpkin Roll – That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Pumpkin Pie Cups – The Curious Country Cook

Drinks
Pumpkin Cranberry Smoothie – Tessa The Domestic Diva
Pumpkin Chai Smoothie – Healthful Pursuit
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie – Nancy Creative
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie – Total Noms
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie – Be Filled Up
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie – Cannella Vita
Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie – Will Cook for Friends
Pumpkin Pie Steamer – Oatmeal after Spinning
Death by Pumpkin Cocktail – Hungry Couple NYC
Spiced Pumpkin Cocktail – The Blond Cook
Pumpkin Vodka Cocktail – David the Tornado
Pumpkin Pie Martini – Noshing with the Nolands

Recipe Collections
10 Inventive Pumpkin Recipes – Treehugger
Roundup of 25 Pumpkin Recipe – Real Mom Kitchen
20 Scrumptious Pumpkin Recipes – Creature Comforts
Top 20 Pumpkin Desserts
8 Pumpkin and Squash Recipes – Inspired Taste
Pumpkin Recipe Roundup – Java Cupcake
26 Pumpkin Recipes – Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
5 of the BEST Pumpkin Desserts – BabyCenter Blog

Your pumpkin craving hasn’t been satisfied yet? Oh my. Well, you can try out the other pumpkin recipes that I’ve collected.

And if you stumbled upon this list and have a recipe involving pumpkin that you would like included, feel free to leave a link to it in the comments.

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I’ve seen a number of advertisements lately for costume contests. Hopefully, I’ll have the time to put together a monster list of costume contests in each geography next year. That’s part of my plans to list Halloween parties in the nation’s largest cities on Funtober. In the meantime, I’ve put together the following list of 2012 Halloween costume contests online. Some of them require entry well in advance of Halloween – so don’t wait until Halloween to check them out. Others are open to entrants through Halloween, so you have plenty of time to put together your submission. Enjoy!

Halloween Costume Contests
Fujifilm Picture Perfect Halloween Contest
Chipotle Boorito Costume Contest
Coolest Homemade Costumes 2012 Contest
Big Bang Theory Halloween Costume Contest
Instructables Easy and Epic Costume Contests
Boo-tiful Baby Costume Contest
Uhaul Boo-Haul Costume Contest
Lowell Sun Halloween Costume Photo Contest
Costume Works
ComicBookMovie.com
Joeyverse

Pet Costume Photo Contests
Petco Howloween Make a Scene Photo Contest
Woman’s Day Halloween Pet Costume Photo Contest
Halloween Puplife Dog Halloween Costume Photo Contest
Pets Adviser Halloween 2012 Photo Contest
Dog Fence DIY Halloween Dog Costume Photo Contest
AmberTech Pet Costume Photo Contest
Boyd’s Flower Halloween Pet Costume Photo Contest

Online Recognition – No Prizes (that I saw)
About.com Paranormal Phenomena’s Contest for Paranormal Costumes
Diablo Magazine
Southern Living Halloween Pet Costume Contest

Are you running or promoting a photo contest related to Halloween? Leave a comment with the information about your costume contest and we’ll add it to the list! Be sure to include the website link and information about prizes and contest deadlines, of course.

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Let me make a quick plea to you right now.  There’s three weeks left until Halloween 2012.  Take a few hours out of your day and decide what costume you are going to wear.  If you do not spend the time now to figure out what you want to be when you grow dress up, it can come back to haunt you.  And I’m not just talking about the long lines that you could face at the store to pick up your last minute costume selection.

Just ask Roger Garrison, the Atlanta sheriff who was photographed in a KKK costume at a Halloween party almost thirty years ago.  The photos were released this summer by an Atlanta news station.  Big deal.  You may be thinking: I’ll never be in a public position where photos of my costume will become a controversial aspect of a re-election campaign for a political office.  But the photos can still be an embarrassment.  The internet does not forget.  There’s multiple sites on the internet where your pictures can end up.  Just ask the people in the costume fail pictures posted on Costume Fail, Costume Pop, Fail Blog and Epic Fail.

So spend some time to actually think about your Halloween costume.  Order it online to avoid waiting in long lines at the costume store.  Leave plenty of time in case there’s a problem with your costume or you need a different size.  And avoid the last minute costume decision-making process that leads to costume fails!

 

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Leaf Printed Linens

 

To be perfectly honest, this project is the result of one of those moments when I’m at the store looking at kitchen and table linens that I really don’t need (but I don’t have an autumnal leaf tablecloth!) and one catches my eye — the colors! the pattern! Then I see the price tag, and a case of “I can make that” inevitably sets in.

As an art major in college, I ended up with three semesters of printmaking under my belt, so I immediately started running through the list of ways that I could create my own leaf printed linens. Yet, if you’ve ever walked down a leaf-covered sidewalk after a heavy rain, you’ve probably noticed that leaves are pretty good at making beautiful prints on their own. Simplicity wins every time.

This just goes to show that you don’t really need fancy equipment or special supplies — or a small fortune — to spruce up your kitchen and dining room with seasonal linens. All I started with was an inexpensive, plain tablecloth (I’ve also used white floursack towels, too, which work great), a little paint, and some leaves gathered twenty feet from my front door. But I ended up with a stack of dinner party-worthy linens that are sturdy enough for every day use — because there’s always room for just a little more October.

Leaf Printed Linens - Materials

MATERIALS

  • Leaf (or leaves)
  • Acrylic craft paint or fabric paint
  • Foam brush
  • Linens (such as a tablecloth, tea towel, etc.)
  • Scrap paper (such as newspaper) and cardboard/paper plate

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Look for leaves that are freshly fallen — they should still have bright color. These will be sturdy enough to withstand repeated painting and printing. Leaves that are too old and dry will be too brittle; leaves that are young will be too thin and soft. If you’re out in the woods, make sure you can clearly identify what kind of plant a leaf came from before you pick it up (visually, as in “It is obvious that this leaf has fallen from that giant tree there!”). A case of poison ivy/oak/sumac might put a damper on a crafty afternoon.

Fabric paint is good if you have some; I used acrylic craft paint because I tend to have it on hand in a variety of colors. Acrylic paint is permanent once it has set into fabric (or any porous material), which makes it a good choice for painting fabric on purpose. However, make sure to cover your work surface underneath the fabric, and wear a smock or apron so that you don’t ruin your clothes. Your fingers will get a little messy!

A thin coat of paint is key to getting a good print. Dispense some paint onto a paper plate or scrap of cardboard. Using a plate will help you get the right amount of paint on your brush by spreading it around thinly, whereas dipping the brush will load it with too much paint. Practice on a scrap piece of fabric first.

(It’s also a good idea to wash and iron, if necessary, your linens before printing on them. I didn’t, and had to stretch the fabric slightly as I worked to keep creases and wrinkles from ruining my prints. Don’t be like me.)

Leaf Printed Linens - Process

1. Dip the foam brush in water and blot on a rag or paper towel. You want the brush to be more wet than damp, but less than soaking. This will thin the paint out just enough to soak into the fibers and remain flexible, but retain enough viscosity to make a clean print. Play around with the amount of water you use. You can get away with more for darker colors to create a watercolory look, but I add almost no water to lighter colors like yellow and white.

2. Use the tip of the brush to pull out a bit of paint from the blob. Evenly coat the tip of the brush with paint by spreading the paint around a small area of the plate, using short, even strokes on both sides of the brush.

3. Apply a thin, even coat of paint to the back of the leaf using short, even strokes.

4. Carefully place the leaf — painted side down — onto your fabric. Hold in place firmly, but gently, with one hand so that the leaf doesn’t slip. Use one or two fingers on your other hand to tap firmly all over the leaf from the center out to the edges, pressing the leaf downward onto the fabric. Avoid rubbing the leaf as this will create unnecessary friction, which may cause the leaf to become more brittle, and can smear paint over the edge of the leaf onto the fabric.

5. Peel the leaf straight up by the stem. Do this slowly and carefully to avoid damaging the leaf or smudging the print.

6. Repeat steps 2–5 to create the desired pattern.

Leaf Printed Linens

If you want to change colors with the same leaf, you can clean it by gently wiping off the wet paint with a damp paper towel.

Allow the paint to dry overnight.

Set the paint with a hot iron on the “cotton” setting: press the iron over a painted area (in one place; don’t slide it around) for 10–20 seconds. Repeat until you have ironed over all painted areas. You should then be able to machine wash your painted linens in cold water and dry on low heat as needed (or follow manufacturer’s instructions if gentler laundering is required).

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Sadly, the last litre of beer was served at Oktoberfest 2012 in Munich yesterday. Over the course of the celebration, 6.4 million people consumed 6.9 million litres of beer. But that doesn’t mean that the fun has to end. There are still a number of beer festivals to enjoy in October.

Yesterday, I took advantage of the annual Pumpkin Smash at City Tap House in Philadelphia to try a number of pumpkin beers. There were over 30 on tap for the event, including a number from Seattle’s Elysian Brewing. They are definitely experts on pumpkin beer; Elysian hosts the Great Pumpkin Beer Festival in Seattle on October 19th and 20th. Uwishunu billed this as the East Coast version of the event.

It did not disappoint. They converted a large pumpkin into a keg and served pumpkin beer from it.

You can see the awesome commemorative glass for the event in the lower right hand corner. And an internal pumpkin carving contest among the employees meant the place was decorated right for the consumption of pumpkin beer:

The Great Pumpkin Festival will have over 60 pumpkin beers to serve during its three sessions. So I highly recommend attending if you are in the area. I just don’t know if they will be able to match City Tap House’s Pumpkin Bombs, though. It’s a delicious way to down a shot with pumpkin beer. I will have to get the recipe up here.

I hope you enjoyed the first weekend of October. Although, since it is Columbus Day, it can technically still be considered the weekend for many of you. On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus and the crew of the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria reached North America. Columbus Day has been a federal holiday since 1934.

I ran around town to do a few errands this morning and it was obvious that it is October and Halloween is quickly approaching.

The first stop was CVS – where there was an entire aisle of Halloween candy. My local pet store, Doggie Style, was ready for Halloween as well. They had dog costumes in the front and back of the store. And there were so many gourmet Halloween dog treats that I was in shock.

A quick lunch at Chipotle brought a flyer for Boorito. If you wear a Halloween costume at Chipotle on October 31st from 4 PM until close, you get a $2 burrito (or other item). Up to $1 million in proceeds from the event will benefit the Chipotle Cultivate foundation. While you are there, take a photo of yourself in costume and submit it to the Chiptle costume contest. The grand prize winner gets $2500. My camera phone photo of the flyer turned out blurry, so you’ll just have to visit the Chipotle link for details.

Then I walked around to check out the Midtown Village Fall Festival in Philadelphia today. The roads were closed down and they were just finishing setting up as I walked through it. Should be lots of people there this afternoon with a beautiful fall day. I know that everyone reading this won’t live in Philadelphia, so don’t forget to check out our list of October festivals near you for other options.

And, if you like to make crafts and decorate your home for Halloween, you should know that bloggers across the internet are producing alot of Halloween crafts. I have seen a number of different tutorials for decorating pumpkins cross the front page of Craftgawker in the past week. Even as I draft this post, I’ve got a Food Network pumpkin carving competition on the television. Although I bought myself a pumpkin last weekend, I haven’t had time to carve it yet.

Let’s see what else has been happening while I have been juggling my day job, Funtober and sleep.

Pink fountain at Love Park

On Monday, the fountain at Love Park was pink to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I also noticed pink on the accessories of football players on Monday Night Football. There are a few more October charities worth supporting as well. Next year, I’ll be adding charities related to bird migration. The Fatal Light Awareness Program is definitely worth mentioning.

The Presidential debate on Wednesday generated a lot of election news coverage. It was the first Presidential debate that I have watched in years. After about twenty minutes, I had to move on to other things. I had reached my tolerance limit for listening to two politicians.

Fall leaves made Google’s hot searches last week. The Weather Channel is once again keeping track of peak fall foliage in your area with its maps. If you are in New England this Columbus Day weekend looking for colorful leaves, be sure to check out the reports on Yankee Foliage and Jeff Foliage as well.

I’ve also been enjoying fall television all week long. From NBC’s Revolution and ABC’s Last Resort, my favorite new shows so far this Fall, to my returning favorite Person of Interest, I’ve been trying to keep up with them despite my busy schedule. I’m also looking forward to catching up on The Walking Dead before its Season 3 premiere next Sunday.

The MLB Playoffs started last night. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t mentioned Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown here yet. Cabrera led the American League with his batting average, home runs and RBIs this year. The last time that a player has achieved the Triple Crown was 1967 by Carl Yastrzemski. It’s quite an accomplishment. In other baseball news, the infield fly rule call during last night’s game between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals resulted in a stoppage of play as fans littered the field with debris in protest.

Only in October!

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Spider Mobile

Here’s a little secret I’m reluctant to share: if anyone ever wanted to give me a good Halloween fright, all it would take is a fake spider. No strategic placement needed! So this mobile, with plastic spiders cascading down from a string and hoop web, is just about the creepiest craft project I’ve ever done in my life. Although I’ve taken pains to make it as nice as possible to look at, I’ve already startled myself half a dozen times just trying to make the darn thing. It’s really a marvel that I managed to finish it at all.

(My five-month old daughter, on the other hand, can’t get enough of it.)

Creepy-crawlies aside, this is a simple project with inexpensive supplies that took me no more than two hours to complete. If you can measure and make simple knots — and if you can stand to work with artificial arachnids — then you’ve got it made.

MATERIALS

  • Wood embroidery hoop, any size (we’re only using the inner hoop)
  • White string (I used crochet thread)
  • Plastic spiders
  • Large button or wooden bead (~3/4″)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Hot glue or adhesive dots
  • Scraps of black fabric, felt, or paper

SOME NOTES

Although this project only uses the inner hoop of an embroidery hoop, you could use the same web-making process to create a wall hanging with the outer hoop. Just glue a spider (*shudder*) right onto the web, or let it dangle on a string.

I used a wood hoop for three main reasons: (1) they’re far less expensive than plastic hoops, (2) they have greater friction than plastic, so the string will better stay in place, and (3) I prefer a more subdued, natural look. But there’s no reason why you can’t paint the hoop first, if you want some fun color (or white or black for even less color). You could also wrap it in yarn, ribbon, fabric, or washi tape.

That said, you’re also not limited to white string. If you’re feeling colorful, go colorful. I’m a big proponent of using one’s imagination.

There are many different kinds of fake spiders out there; choose whichever you like, or make your own, if you’re so inclined (I was most definitely not inclined). I used plastic spider rings and cut off the ring.

Spider Mobile - Make the Web

MAKE THE WEB

1. Cut four (three if your embroidery hoop is less than 6 inches) pieces of string at least 18 inches PLUS the diameter of the embroidery hoop. I used a 7-inch hoop, so I made my string 25 inches long. Stretch one string out underneath the hoop and center it as best you can (string A). Tie the string to the hoop across the hoop’s diameter, keeping the string fairly taut.

2. Take the next piece of string (string B) and center it under the first string. Tie string B to string A. NOTE: I tied B slightly off the center of A because I wanted an asymmetrical look. You can put this knot wherever you want, as it will determine the center of the web.

Tie the ends of string B to the hoop, spaced evenly between the ends of string A, keeping string B fairly taut.

3. Repeat step 2 with the remaining strings, but begin by tying each to string A in the same place you attached string B (the center of the web).

4. To make it easier to work, wrap the loose ends around the hoop and secure with small binder clips or tape. (You need these later to hang the mobile.)

5. Measure a new string by wrapping it around the diameter of the outer hoop five times. This will be used to make the cross-pieces of the web (string X).

6. Tie one end of string X to any of the existing strings close to the center knot. It may be easier to make your knot further away from the center and slide it into place.

7. Knot string X to the next adjacent string, slightly further from the center, keeping X fairly taut. Continue knotting X to each adjacent string, creating a spiral out from the center until you reach the hoop (or until you run out of string). Try not to become fixated on making the spiral perfectly even. I think the web has more of a naturally creepy look when it’s uneven.

8. To help keep the knots in place, apply a little glue to each knot on the web and the hoop.

Spider Mobile - Make it Mobile

MAKE IT MOBILE!

1. Gather together all of the loose ends of the strings attached to the hoop. Thread them through the hole of a wooden bead, or a large button in the event that you are unable to find the wooden beads you know you have somewhere. (My button had four holes, so I threaded two adjacent strings through each hole). Hold the loose ends above the bead/button, and let the mobile dangle. Use the bead/button to help you level the mobile, then tie the strings into a knot above the bead/button.

2. If you have enough string left above the knot to make a loop, braid or twist the extra and tie a knot to create a loop to use for hanging the mobile; otherwise, make a separate loop by measuring six 6-inch pieces of string, braid or twist them together, thread the braid between the mobile strings between the button and the knot, and tie the braid into a loop. Cover the knots with glue to keep them from unraveling.

3. Measure and cut enough strings to have one for each “branch” of the web (multiply the number of strings you started with by two; so if you started with 4 strings, you’ll need to cut 8 new ones). Make your first string 4 inches, and add 2 inches for each additional string: one each at 4 in., 6 in., 8 in., 10 in., 12 in., 14 in., 16 in., and 18 in. long.

4. Tie each string to the web at one of the knotted intersections, near the hoop. You can keep the strings in order by length as you go around to create a cascading spiral, or you can mix them up. You can also add as many as you want, placed wherever you want.

5. Glue plastic spiders to the strings either with hot glue or with adhesive dots. I used adhesive dots because they tend to be safer and they don’t tend to peel off of plastic easily. I cut tiny pieces of black scrap fabric to cover the adhesive/string; felt or paper would also work.

Spider Mobile

Hang someplace where the mobile can catch a draft — such as near a window, door, or vent. And try not to startle yourself every time you pass by.

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This cute paper pumpkin is wrapped full of all sorts of tricks and treats. It’s a great way to occupy bored kids (or adults.) The recipient starts by pulling the ribbon tab and as they unroll the pumpkin bits of candy and creepy crawlies fall out!

Supplies:
- 1 (81 foot) roll orange crepe paper streamers
- part of 1 (81 foot) roll green crepe paper streamers
- rubber cement
- decorative ribbon
- lollipop or other object to form a stem
- assortment of tricks and treats – candy, erasers, plastic bugs, etc

Check dollar stores for the streamers and fun little prizes to wrap into your favors. Each pumpkin will use 1 roll of orange crepe paper (more if you have lots of stuff) but you can probably make 6 or more stems from one roll of green.

Start by wrapping the lollipop with green crepe paper. You can use a dot of rubber cement to hold it in place at the start.

Then start wrapping it with the orange crepe paper. As you wrap, tuck in the tricks and treats.

When you get everything wrapped up make a little pull tab from the decorative ribbon and glue it and the end of the streamer down with a bit more rubber cement. When the recipient is ready to unroll it the rubber cement will easily pull loose and they can start unwrapping from there.