Category Archives: DIY

Ideas for Pumpkins!

Since the weather has begun to cool down a bit, more layers are added to our outfits, and the smell of pumpkin spice is filling my room…I thought I would do a post about one of the pumpkins I decorated last year.  I have loved the fall for as long as I could remember.  As I have gotten older I have wanted summer to end to see the leaves change, watch football games, and drink hot coffees outside.  My mom is huge on noticing the small things in life.  One statement I have heard hundreds of times in my life from her is

Take note.

I now say this to my friends and family members.  This can be used for any situation.  At anytime.  During the fall season is when Mama says it the most.  “Allie, Take note of that tree on the right.” (the leaves have begun to change color)  “Allie, Take note of those squirrel nests.”  (my niece is the master at finding squirrel homes thanks to my mama’s teaching.) “Allie, Take note of that sunset.”  The possibilities are endless.

So take note of the beautiful weather change, and an idea for pumpkins.  Carving pumpkins is a must.  I have never gone a year without carving a pumpkin for Halloween.  I love decorating for each holiday (take a look at my previous post https://aleecolton.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/fun-treats-from-the-past/ where I explain how to create some yummy 4th of July treats)

I love to give gifts.  Especially during all the different holiday seasons.  Not just Christmas presents, or birthday presents, but for all of the holidays.  If you are going to give them a present, why not make it a holiday themed gift?  Doc is a man that owns an auto repair shop.  I have taken my 1994 Honda there many a times in the past, and now my family takes their cars there for repairs too.  I love local mom and pop shops.  At Docs you can sit down and have a cup of coffee and shoot the shit for hours with the regulars.  Doc is like another dad in my life.  He is also my landlord.  I have been out to his home and had drinks with him and his wife.  His son is my neighbor, and I get along well with his daughter.  Overall I feel very comfortable at Doc’s auto shop, and I wanted to make him something that he could put out for the Halloween season.  So here is it!

Painted Pumpkin:

I decided to paint a pumpkin because it will last a lot longer, and I love to paint.  Also by doing this you are able to make it very specific and unique.

  • Get a pumpkin.  Make sure it has a good surface (not too many bumps or cracks, this will make it easier to paint)
  • Next draw out your design on paper, I did this and then cut the paper so I could put this on the pumpkin to make sure the design will fit.  You don’t have to do this, but I recommend it.
  • Once you have the design made, (and made sure the image fits) use a pen/sharpie/marker to draw out the outlines for the design.  This is will assist you while painting.
  • Use acrylic paint.
  • You can use water to make it more transparent or mix different colors to create a new color.
  • Start to paint!  Use any brush you feel comfortable with.
  • Let it dry, (it won’t take long at all).  If you are going to keep it inside you don’t need to put on a clear coat for protection.  But if you are going to put it outside you need to let it dry and then then use the add a clear coat.  I usually use a spray paint form of the clear enamel.  But any kind you find will work.  But the paint must be dry or it will smear and be ruined.
  • You can add any 3D pieces by attaching them with a glue gun.  Or glitter with glue.  Make it beautiful.  Make it full.  Keep it simple.  Whatever you want!
  • Once it is finished, sit back and enjoy your piece.

Here is my example I made for Doc: 

I didn’t take a photo of just the outline drawn on the pumpkin, but you can see it in this photo.  The blue is the start of the flames that went around the whole pumpkin.

Next step, white detailed outline around the blue flames.

Final product!  Blue flames with white detailed outlines. Done. Red lettering of Doc’s with black  detailed outlines.  Done.  It may have a few parts that I would have corrected or adjusted if I was going to make it again, but overall I loved the finished piece!  Doc told me that he receive a lot of complements, and he would like another pumpkin for this year!

Start thinking about what designs you will use for your pumpkins this year.  We have time before October, so get your brains working!!

Until again, alc

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Out in the Garden

Living in the Midwest has taught me many values.  Respect each other.  Love.  Take care of each other.    Be happy.  Try to not stress out with the little things, but instead take a deep breath and relax. Keep your family and friends involved in your life.  Try to live off the land.  In the past year and a half I have become more connected in the city I live in.  I have been here for years, but some people think it is nothing but a college town.  I disagree.  This city is my home.  My parents are here.  My sister and her family are here.  My grandma is here. I know the side streets (maybe not all the names but I know the area 🙂 ) There is a chance that I will get a job here after I graduate in May.  I could buy my home here.  I could get married and raise my children here.  That is a big idea to get my head wrapped around. What if I should leave for a few years and then come back?  I love Midwest values.  I love the life I have had thus far.  I love the childhood I had.  I want to be able to keep those values, and possibly this environment.

Becoming more comfortable in this town has allowed me to meet more “locals” and this in return has keep me more grounded.  My family has always been into gardening.  I enjoy it, but I have never had a real garden of my own.  I haven’t owned my own house yet, and I have lived in apartments since I moved out of my parents’ house.  I am now in a rental house, and I have a fair amount of plants in pots, and I have fixed a few flower beds…and one tomato plant…but no garden.  Yesterday I went out to a garden with my sister and her little ones.    Her friends purchased about 40 acres of land a few years ago, and they have built their home and created a garden.  They said that my sister and her family can pick as much as they would like from the garden, and in return they help keep the garden and can/freeze the produce.

While we were driving up the lane to get to the garden, we had to stop and back up…it was a little muddy and instead of getting the car stuck we decided to get out and get our feet muddy instead.  While my sister was parking the car she told me to hop out and see if that was a turtle or frog out in the road.  I was standing there searching for this animal, and I couldn’t see anything.  I couldn’t find it.  And then I did.  How my sister spotted this tiny guy is amazing.  It was an adorable baby snapping turtle.  He just sat there and stared up at me.  He didn’t run away immediately.  Estelle was able  to see him, and I took a few photos and a video.  Then he ran over to the side and we went on our way up the hill to the garden.

Just a little cutie! Can you spot him?

We went out with a mission of picking tomatoes.  Or “matoes” as the little ones call them.   Hazel did really well helping me pick cherry tomatoes as T worked on the monster roma tomato plants.  Gabe came over and showed me that he picked a green bean, so we picked those too! Estelle was eating a tomato like an apple.  It was quiet and peaceful.  The color green was everywhere. This is how a summer day should be spent.   With your family.  Doing something that doesn’t cost a ton of money.  Something that will benefit you in the long run.  (My sister has made jars and jars and jars of tomato sauce, tomato soup, pizza sauce, stewed tomatoes, and salsa is on the way.) I was able to bring home fresh tomatoes and basil, and tonight for dinner I am having the best salad ever.  Here is the directions for one of my favorite Midwestern salads!

Tomato Mozz Salad:

  • Tomatoes (fresh from a garden is the best)
  • Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Fresh Basil leaves (again from a garden is the best)

Directions:

  • Cut up the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese into small chunks
  • Slice the basil into small pieces
  • Put it all in a bowl and add in dressing (as much or as little as you would like)
  • Mix it up (or shake it) so all the ingredients are covered with the dressing
  • Let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes (I like it best cold, but room temperature is good too)
  • Enjoy!

Here are some photos from the amazing adventure I had with my family.

The little ones and T working away

Estelle checking out the corn

Gabe eating a green bean.  Can not getting any healthier than that! Straight from the plant, straight to his tummy!

Myself with fresh peppers in hand

  I have amazing people in my life that influence me to make each day better than the past.  They know I have some bad habits that I need to change, and I am very lucky that they are supporting me in my changes.  What can you do to make your day better?

Until again, alc

Hamburger Cookies (make them for little ones or for big ones!)

I was lucky enough to make these in one of my summer classes this year, and I had a blast making them.  In my course we had to work with a partner and write a lesson plan and then teach it to our fellow classmates, as if they were actually the students in a grade between K-6.  Two of my fellow friends taught us (as 2nd graders) about assembly lines through making these cute and delicious treats. There was 7 of us in a row and each of us had a very important part to do in order to make the awesome finish product of the Hamburger Cookie.

Ingredients needed for Hamburger Cookies: 

  • Vanilla wafer cookies (these can be name brand, Nilla Wafers, or store brand)
  • White frosting (you can make your own homemade, or you can get it already made in a can)
  • Food coloring (you will need red, yellow, and green)
  • Wax paper
  • Mint cookies (again, these can be name brand or store brand. Or another form of thin chocolate cookies would work)
  • Coconut flakes

Steps:

  • Color the frosting red for ketchup, yellow for mustard, and orange (made out of yellow and red) for the cheese
  • Color the coconut flakes green for the lettuce (you can do this easily by putting the green food coloring into a baggie with the coconut flakes and shake it until the flakes are dyed green.
  • Next take one of the vanilla wafer cookies and put on the red frosting on the cookie.  (This will be the bottom bun)
  • Then place the thin mint chocolate cookie on top of the red frosting.
  • Add the yellow frosting on top of the cookie.
  • Place the green coconut flakes on the yellow frosting.
  • Take a new vanilla wafer cookie and put the orange frosting on one side of the cookie.  Make sure you put the frosting on the flat side, because the rounded side will need to be on the very top for the round bun.
  • After you have put the orange frosting on the “top” bun attach it to the rest of the hamburger cookie.

The layers can be mixed around depending on how you would like to create the cookie, and if you would like to add more or use less of some of the materials that is perfect too!  The best part about these adorable cookies is that you can change them to fit you, or the people creating/eating them.  On the internet there are a lot of different recipes on how to create these.  For example when I made them we used green frosting as the lettuce, but when I make them again I will use green coconut flakes instead.

You can also make these yummy “french fries” to go along with the burgers.  I have not made these yet, but here is how to make them.  (I can’t wait to make these too!!)

Ingredients needed for French Fries:

  • 1 (10 ounce) package peanut butter chips
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • Frosting dyed red
  • Paper muffin cup liners

Steps:

  • Melt peanut butter chips with milk in the microwave, stir until smooth.
  • Then pour the mixture into a foil lined and greased 9 inch baking pan.
  • Let this cool completely at room temperature.
  • Lift out of pan and invert on a cutting board.
  • Remove the foil, and the cut the cooled mixture into about 3 inch by 3/4 inch strips.
  • Fold the cup liners in half (pressing out the creases) and then in half again.  Point under, and then use this as the holder for the fries.
  • Add on some red frosting on top (or on the side) for some ketchup.

Here I am enjoying my burger! Yummy!

 

I didn’t make these fries, but I wanted to make sure to include a photo of them completed for a reference.

 

Enjoy making these, and post a photo if you do! I would love to see how you used this recipe as a starting point, and then what you did to make some changes.

 

Until again, alc

Fun Treats from the Past

I love making treats that are cute and tasty! 

In the past year I have begun to appreciate the Fourth of July a little bit more.  I have always loved all the holidays…my favorite being Valentine’s Day (yes insert some comment here about how it is a holiday made up by Hallmark, or how I must always have a boyfriend on this day and that is why I love it so much.  Well that is false.  There has been plenty of Valentine Days without a boyfriend, and each time I am as happy as I am with one.  I don’t have to have someone giving me gifts or extra attention to feel loved and happy.)  I love to decorate.  I have items to set out for every holiday, and I wish I could have these awesome decorations out year round 🙂

So this year for the Fourth of July I thought it would be fun to create something I first saw from Pinterest.  Where would we be without that website??  I saw this treat months before July, but I thought it would be something easy and adorable to make for my family and friends.  I took some photos of them while I was making them, and then after I was done, and posted them up on Facebook.  I received a lot of comments about them, and those who ate them fell in love.

Ingredients needed:

  • Strawberries (as many as you would like to use)
  • White Almond bark
  • Blue sprinkles
  • Wax paper

The how to’s:

  • Start by washing the strawberries and let them air dry, or dry them off with a paper towel or kitchen towel
  • Pour the blues sprinkles into a bowl
  • Put out wax paper
  • Melt Almond bark (put in up to four squares and melt for 30 seconds and then stir, continue this process until it is all melted)
  • Dip strawberry into the Almond bark, leave about a half an inch of the strawberry at top (this will be the red of the flag treat)
  • Then roll the end of the dipped strawberry into the blue sprinkles (this is the blue of the flag treat)
  • Then carefully place the strawberry on the wax paper to dry
  • After they are completed, keep them stored in the fridge (they will start to melt if they are out in the heat)
  • Then enjoy!

I think these are a wonderful treat to make and eat!  They could be made for any holiday, just change the color of the sprinkles and maybe use chocolate Almond bark 🙂

And the final product!  Maybe I should make some more…they do look pretty good!

Until again, alc