Halloween 2014

There are a lot of things about Halloween that many people have come to dislike. Those are the parts I have always chosen to ignore. For me Halloween is about carving pumpkins, dressing up, party’s, and candy. I think that is all anyone should really focus on. So that is exactly what I lovingly made my family do this year. And it was awesome.

We picked our pumpkins fresh from Papa Macdonald’s garden and carved them with the Pray’s. Nick was extremely ambitious as he began his pumpkin carving…. I went a little more simple while still avoiding the standard Jack-O-Lantern. Even Decker got to have a cute pumpkin 🙂

My Maleficent Carving

My Maleficent Carving

Nick's Spider Man

Nick’s Spider Man

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Decker’s Mummy

Dressing up is one of my favorite things to do. Whether it is for going on a date, to the ballet, a party, or Halloween, you can bet I am going to take the time to get all dolled up. So this year, while my opinion can still count more than Nick and Deckers…..I decided that we would all dress up together. I had Decker’s outfit planned out for months, but I just wanted something quick and easy for Nick and I. So I got creative and came up with this…

The Pray Family Zoo:

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Nick got to be our Zookeeper. His costume was so easy to put together! I grabbed a few things from his closet, made a few patches and I was done.

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Mine was also very easy, but slightly more time consuming. I made a tulle tutu, added some peacock feathers, glued feathers into a fancy hair piece, spent much longer on my hair and makeup than planned… and boom an easy peacock costume.

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Decker’s of course took much longer. I made his lion costume from the McCalls 6105 pattern, but changed the ribbon for the mane into faux fur fabric for a much cuter more convincing lion. I even went above and beyond making little mittens for his hands and a bag to collect candy in. 🙂

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Overall I think the costumes were a huge success.

And what would Halloween be without cupcakes!?

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I had made these Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes for a Ward Party the week before, but thought they needed some tweaking. So I adjusted the recipe and came up with this for Halloween.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes (makes about 15)

Cupcake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs

Filling:

  • 8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Frosting:

  • 3/4 cup (12 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
  • In bowl of an electric mixer, beat filling ingredients together on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 2-3 minutes; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.
  • In another bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, sugars, vegetable oil and eggs.
  • Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist.
  • Scoop a spoonful of batter evenly into the muffin tin, about half-full. Drop about a tablespoon cream cheese filling into the center of each cup.  Place into oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
  • In bowl of an electric mixer beat butter, cream cheese, and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 1-2 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add milk, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, beating just until incorporated. Increase speed to medium high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, approximately 1-2 minutes.
  • Frost the cupcakes and top with crushed graham cracker crumbs.

Adapted from recipes from Damn Delicious and The Capitol Baker

A perfect end to an awesome Halloween 🙂

Baby Sensory Bag

I saw a sensory bag on Pinterest and thought it was such a great idea!

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The gel itself is fun to squish and the different textures of the toys give it lots of variety. (Ya I played with it for a while before I gave it to him….) I got this idea from Plain Vanilla Mom. This is such a quick easy project to make and it doesn’t cost very much. You can get the little toys from a dollar store or in the party section at Walmart.

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As I was making this bag I wondered how strong the Ziplock bag really is. The freezer bags are stronger than regular bags, but I  think I would use edible Aloe Vera Gel instead of hair gel next time. That way if little teeth poke a hole in the bag it isn’t toxic. Thankfully Decker doesn’t have teeth yet, but it’s something I will keep an eye on when he plays with this.

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You need:

  • 1 quart size Ziplock Freezer bag
  • 1  bottle of Aloe Vera gel (about 16 oz.)
  • Duck Tape
  • Small toys (make sure they don’t have rough or sharp edges to poke holes in the bag)

Directions:

  • Squirt the Aloe Vera gel into the bag. (Add food coloring if the gel is clear)
  • Put a variety of small toys in the bag.
  • Zip the bag shut pushing out all of the air.
  • Duck tape all four sides 2 times for extra strength

And that is it! Super easy!

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