Quick! Cheap, DYI costumes- Bert and Mary Poppins

 

 

Mary Poppins and Bert

With a quick trip to the hardware store for a can of black spray paint and a broom this costume is done in a “Snap!” Just add equal parts; work suit, umbrella, broom and tie it up with a red ribbonfor a real crowd pleaser! 

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Mary

  • Black work suit or just a skirt (black or great or navy, long or short)
  • White blouse
  • Red ribbon- I always save ribbon you never know what project will need it!
  • Black tights
  • Shoes
  • Umbrella

If you don’t have a suit jacket just a skirt and blouse will do! For a bonus find a kids hat at the thrift store and a bouquet of fake flowers.  The hat in this photo was a bright pink kid’s easter bonnet.  Spray paint it black and hot glue flowers to complete.  

Bert

  • Slacks
  • Work Shirt
  • Vest or Jacket or both!
  • Scarf
  • Broom and spray paint

I purchased a broom at the hardware store for $1.50- the cheaper the better! I smashed the bristles in a circular shape and weighted it down to hold the shape, then sprayed it black. Use some black eyeshadow to distress the clothes as it will come out in the wash.  Then get ready to “chim chim cheree!”

Quick! Cheap, DYI costumes- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

 

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Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo – from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

A bunch of fun duo costume made with ease with two loud shirts from a thrift store and items from your own closet!

Dr. Gonzo

  • Sunglasses
  • Loud shirt
  • Pants
  • Gold chain
  • Mustache – you could grow one, paint one or purchase a stick on one from a halloween shop!

Raoul Duke

  • Loud Shirt
  • Fishing cap
  • Aviators
  • Shorts
  • Cigarette bonus if you find a holder!

Boom! Done!

Quick! Cheap DYI Costumes- Crow meets Scarecrows

Scarecrows and a Crow

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A few years back in Manhattan a group of us went as scarecrows and a crow.  With a little raffia or a boa from your local craft store and items in your closet you will have these costumes done before you can say, “trick or treat!”

Boy or Girl Scarecrow 

  • Straw hat- from that sunny vacation!
  • T-shirt
  • Jeans
  • Flannel
  • Leaves

After you have your costume on add strings of raffia threw your button holes and pant loops tying to stay in place.  Place in hair by braiding it in with your own hair or tying it to bobby pins and adding it to hair.  Leaves can be hot glued to string and then tied to various parts of the costume for that autumnal feel.  Don a straw hat and perhaps a flower to your label for good measure! 

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Girl crow

  • That little black dress in your closet
  • Two pair of tights one to wear  and one that you can rip
  • Shoes
  • Black feather boa 

Take second pair of tights and cut out the seat and the feet pulling them over your head to create a “shirt”.  Pull on other pair of tights and dress, then carefully tack the feather boa in several places along the sleeves of the “shirt” you made out of the tights creating wings.  Hot glue a few of the feathers from the boa to bobby pins and place in hair.  Then have fun with your makeup creating some fierce smokey eyes adding feathered eyelashes for a real va va voom look!

Crow costume brought to you by my stunning and creative friend Heather Davenport! 

Quick! Cheap, DYI costumes- two hobos in a pod

So today is Halloween! It may just be my favorite time of year; I love the fall weather, the carmel apples, the decorations…but most of all the dressing up!

But what if you don’t have a costume?  Well I am here to help! A Quick! series for do it yourself costumes you can create with clothes you have in your very own closet with a few items found at your local thrift, hardware or craft store.

Get creative and make it your own and happy haunting!!

Two Hobo’s in a pod! 

This is one of my all time favorite costume! So simple and adorable!  Plus so easy to add layers to keep you warm if you are headed out this hallow’s eve to trick or treat with your kids.

You can make this costume out of items you already have in your closet which makes it the perfect in-a-pinch costume.

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Girl Hobo

  • shirt
  • jacket or vest or both!
  • a tie- I playfully tied a men’s tie like a bow tie
  • skirt or pants
  • long underwear
  • shoes
  • hair adornment/flower

Boy hobo

  • Suit jacket or vest or both
  • Slacks or jeans
  • Under shirt
  • shoes
  • Hat- to purchase at thrift if you don’t have one

Put it all together and what do you got?  A quick, easy, warm costume!

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Blood Slide Lollipops – Deadly Delicious

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I was recently inspired by these Invisible Pops by Martha Stewart- she always has so many fun ideas for Halloween! But I took these Lollipops a step toward the scary for an epic halloween party I catered making them the shape of microscope slides with a drop of red food coloring standing in for blood- spooky delish!

In making candy always start by making patience your friend.  Often you will find that the first batch will be a toss and that’s okay, don’t be hard on yourself!  You are finding your footing and timing within the recipe.  There is such a small margin for error with candy so don’t be disheartened. Rinse out your pot and throw in those three ingredients and try, try again!  The results are worth it!

(to clean hard crack stage candy from a pot, fill with hot water throw in any spoons or instruments into the pot and bring to a boil, the candy will come off like a dream!)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup clear corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Candy Thermometer

Directions

  1. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper, not wax paper as it will melt the wax into your candy. If you are lucky enough to have some silicone candy mats use those!
  2. Prepare and set aside an ice-water bath.
  3. Bring sugar, corn syrup, and water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Then stop stirring but occasionally wash down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water to prevent crystals from forming.  Boil until right before the candy turns golden which is right under 300 – the hard crack stage.   I was doing about 298 on a candy thermometer we want the candy to be clear and not golden to get that glass effect.
  4. Immediately set pan into ice-water bath to stop the cooking, let sit about 30 seconds swirling.
  5. Working fast in groups of three if you are doing this solo.  Use a teaspoon to drop the hot sugar mixture on the parchment paper spreading and stretching the candy into a rectangle shape.  After each batch of three is poured press in lollipop sticks; I used trimmed bamboo screwers.  Once all 12 have been poured, quickly before the candy sets up, take a knife and trim any slides that aren’t the desired shape.  If you wait until it is hardened you risk cracking the pop.
  6. Once the slides are dried use a wooden skewer, dipping the flat end into red food coloring and rub a circle onto the slide, be careful not to add too much as it will run.  As my mother always says in cooking, “You can always add more but can’t ever add less.”  Such wise words!

Happy Halloween!

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Perfect creamy tea cup Panna Cotta

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This dessert will blow your guests away and it’s so simple!   An Italian cooked cream  desert that is luscious but still light it’s almost magical.  What’s so incredible about Panna Cotta is you can make it ahead of time; prepare this easy recipe morning of or the day before allow it to chill and it will perfect any meal.

A few time saving tips and tricks I use;

– Pour your Panna Cotta to set in the dish you would like to serve it in.  Then you don’t have to worry about greasing the mold and getting it to set up perfectly and praying it comes out of the mold perfectly.  For this meal I used tea cups and I think you will agree nothing has been cuter!

– You can also bypass using vanilla bean and save 35 minutes by using high quality vanilla extract.  Stay tuned for my Holiday Series; Homemade Gifts for the recipe for homemade vanilla extract!

Panacotta

4 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract – the better the quality the better the taste!

2 packets powdered gelatin

6 tablespoons cold water

  1. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan.  Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. You can use fresh vanilla bean by removing cream/sugar mix from heat and splitting bean scraping seeds into cream mixture with pod cover and let sit for 30 minutes.  Then remove bean and gently reheat prior to adding gelatin.
  2.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved
  4. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill at least two hours.
  5. To use a mold grease with almond oil or any other neutral tasting oil.  Let Panna Cotta set up at least 4 hours, run a knife along the edge of mold place bottom of mold in hot water, invert on desired dish, garnish and serve.

Quick! Cleaning the bathroom in 10 minutes!

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We have all been there; the phone rings or the Facebook message dings, you have visitors…TONIGHT! This is the first part in a series I will be doing called Quick!  In this series I will walk you through my quick tips and tricks for last minute cleaning room by room, minute by minute.  A real life saver.

We will start with the bathroom, the room most people feel overwhelmed about cleaning but with a few emergency stocked tools and products you can clean this room in 10 minutes!  Seriously.

Emergency tools to have on hand include;

A microfiber cloth

A container of disinfecting wipes- I love the Method Disinfecting Wipes they are good for you, the planet and they naturally disinfect.

Powdered cleanser- I use comet

Liquid toilet bowl cleaner- the ones with a U shaped spout are best to reach under the rim of the toilet

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Now roll up your sleeves and put your timer on.

Squirt the underside of the toilet rim with the liquid toilet bowl cleanser, close lid and let the cleanser get to work while you head to the sink. (30 seconds)

Whip out a wipe and start where the wall and the sink meet and wipe down the surface, paying attention to the faucet as well. Toss wipe.  Use a second wipe to scrub the sink, toss.  (1 minute)

Run the corner of the microfiber cloth under the sink to dampen, run over mirror, then use the dry portion of the cloth to polish.  Microfibers cloths are truly heaven sent, no window cleaner needed…you’ll be blown away.  (1minute)

The bath tub is next.  Dampen the rest of your microfiber cloth and add add some powered cleanser to cloth and sprinkle powdered cleanser through out the tub.  Using the cloth run over the tile in circular motions working your way down to the tub.  Continue scrubbing the tub adding a small amount of hot water if needed.  When the tub and walls are scrubbed turn the shower on hot and spray down walls and tub using the shower head. (3 minutes)

Place trash can outside door of bathroom, sweep the floor with hand broom and dust pan.  Running a dry microfiber cloth over the floor collects all the hair and dust, pull off hair and dust and trash. (2 minutes)

To the toilet! You will be using wipes and working from the top of the toilet down so as to not spread germs and tossing the used wipes in the trashcan.  Take a wipe and clean the top of the toilet and the water tank, making sure to get the flusher!  With the second wipe tackle the top and underside, in that order, of the lid. Toss wipe.  Third wipe starts with the toilet seat top then move to the underside and finish with the top of the rim, toss wipe.  Next grab your toilet brush (it’s nice to keep one housed by the toilet- The Container Store has some lovely fashionable options) and scrub the liquid you left in toilet earlier cleansing the bowl and flush. Fourth wipe tends to the foot of the toilet working your way to the floor, toss wipe. (2 minutes)

Grab your final wipe or two and run over floor to disinfect. Toss wipes, remove trash bag, put in new liner (keeping a few extra liners in the trash can saves seconds) Place waste basket back and you’re DONE! (30 seconds)

Follow my blog for more on the Quick! series.

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Popping poppers!

When I worked at Utah Shakespeare Festival, down in southern Utah, our day off was filled with stunning vistas and strenuous hikes through the canyons and peaks of Zion and Kolob.  The fall days were always the best with changing colors, crisp air and views that were truly breath taking.  But the fun didn’t stop when the sun set and the Park closed.  No, that meant it was time for strawberry margaritas and jalapeno poppers at The Bit and Spur.  These poppers are out of this world and unlike any I have ever had, they were baked and tasted so fresh and amazing.  Over the years I have been attempting to create my own recipe to feed my poppin’ needs outside of Utah and whenever the fall air turns crisp I prepare these little stunning peppers.  

I received some fresh peppers from my good friend Jessica’s garden when we met up on the shore for a beach camping trip…recipes from that trip coming soon!  The peppers were a medley from her garden: jalapenos, cherry peppers and serranos..oh my!  It created such a beautiful display of color!  

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This is a easy recipe that is sure to impress.  For potlucks really pop by bringing these babies before heating and toss in the oven for 30 minutes and serve! 

Ingredients 

12 peppers- a medley or just jalapenos will do

5oz of cream cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup panco bread crumbs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350, lightly grease rimmed baking pan and set aside.

In a bowl, cream together cream cheese and cheddar and place panco bread crumbs in a seperate shallow bowl.

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Carefully, with gloves or baggies over hands, slice peppers length wise and remove all seeds and membranes.  If you’re not using gloves be careful as the oil from the peppers will burn something fierce in you get in on any sensitive area of the body.    

Stuff pepper halves with cheese mixture and then invert and dip cheese top in panco crumbs to cover. The panco crumbs only grace the top the poppers.

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Lay out on lightly greased pan and back in oven until tops are brown and crisp, about 30 minutes.  

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Serve immediately, with a cold beer or to truly recreate the Bit a Spur- a strawberry margarita!

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Easy as apple pie

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Let’s talk apple pie!!

Nothing says, “hey y’all, it’s fall!” like the golden crust and snappy sweet/tart filling of an Old Fashioned Apple Pie.   I know you might be thinking, pie is too difficult, there are too many elements, I don’t have the time or the skill.  But I know you are thinking this while at the same time wishing so badly that you could make that flakey crust, with piping hot filling that makes your mouth water and your whole house smell like food heaven.  So today we are going to tackle an Old Fashion Apple Pie and you’ll see it’s as easy, well as easy as pie!


I took a trip on Tuesday to the Armory and the Ashland Farmers Market because one of my cooking mottos is- quality is everything.  Simply the best ingredients used simply create the most amazing moments and meals.

After walking through all the stalls I landed at Thompson Creek Organics– their selection was stunning and a great selling point and special treat- sitting in front of each basket brimming with apples were little snappy bites of each one to try.  I wanted to make a blend, as I feel all things apple should be blended for the best taste.  I picked tiny bright and tart Blenheim Reds and large jade green Gravensteins with their sweet finish.

What a fun outing this would be with kids to let them taste the apples and pick their favorite blend for their pie!  When you are making your choice look for bright, tart, crunchy apples for best pie results.

Now it’s Pie Time.

If you are pressed for time it’s always a great idea to make the crust ahead of time either refrigerate or freeze.  I use a traditional Pate Brisee recipe and its success is all in the science.  You simply can’t skip steps or not use super cold butter and super cold water- these tiny steps make it the piecrust to beat all piecrusts.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces- don’t be afraid to use frozen butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice chilled water

 

Directions

  • Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl using a pastry blender cut into butter until it forms into small mealy balls. Then add water 1/4 cup at a time stirring to combine, using hands if necessary, until the dough barely starts to hold together.

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Or Place dried ingredients and butter in a food processor, and process for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube, just until the dough holds together. Do not process for more than 30 seconds.
  • Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide in two batches. Place each batch on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten, and form two discs. Wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.

Now that your dough is chillin’ in the fridge it’s time to slice up those apples.  I like to leave on the skin of the apples as it creates a beautiful color scape and you retain the nutrients in the skin oh and bonus, it’s a time saver!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 10 large apples and 8 small apples
  • 3/4 cup sugar, plus additional for pie top
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon- I like to use a blend of China and Ceylon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg, beaten

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Directions

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface or better yet a silicone pastry sheet, roll out pate brisee into two 1/8-inch-thick circles to a diameter a bit larger than 11-inch pie dish.  Press one pastry circle into the pie plate and put the other circle on waxed paper and chill both until firm, about 30 minutes

  • In a large bowl, combine apples, sugar, lemon zest and juice, spices, and flour. Toss well then spoon apples into pie pan and dot with butter then cover with remaining pastry circle. Cut several steam vents across top. Seal by crimping edges or
  • flattening with a fork and brush with beaten egg sprinkling with additional sugar.
  • Bake until crust is brown and juices are bubbling, about 1 hour. Let cool on wire rack before serving.

Serve with ice cream and enjoy!

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