A Few Tips For A Great Halloween Night!

A Few Tips For A Great Halloween Night!

October 31, 2016

Halloween Night And Pirate Costume – Part 2

   Halloween costumes finished, food ready, and ‘A Few Tips For A Great Halloween Night!‘ guarantee a scary Halloween night of fun for all!

# 1 Tip – Have the costumes finished at least a couple of days before Halloween and help create the vision of the character the kids choose to be!


       The ‘pirate costume’ was ready a couple of days before Halloween and it turned out great!  Sophia said it was her favorite costume yet.  She and I conspired together to create her vision of this DIY pirate costume.  The easy DIY tricorn hat, which was finished a couple of weeks ago, was the pièce de résistance.  Her brown boots laced up the back and were a great addition to the pirate look.

   We ended up just turning up a quarter-inch hem on the dress, deciding against the high-low look.  We also nixed adding more lace to the skirt.  Sophia said she really loved the dress just like it was.  Agreeing with her, I was also a little concerned that the dress might ride up and if we had shortened it in the front, that would not be good.

   The over skirt was just shortened by cutting, (No hemming necessary!  Love that!), and the front edges were rounded slightly leaving the bulk of this beautiful fabric. 

   We found the octopus pendant at Michaels Arts & Crafts store.  We just added a chain.  I had considered adding the octopus to the hat on one side, but Sophia wanted it as a necklace.

  A suede lace was laced through the grommets of the waist cincher.

   Aidan had decided he wanted to be a member of the (Special Weapons and Tactics), S.W.A.T. team.   This was a relatively easy costume to assemble.  The S.W.A.T. hat was found at the local Halloween store.

    We bought a black zip-up sweatshirt and black pants. (Aidan can wear both of these for every day.)  We found a black tactical airsoft vest at Dick’s Sporting Goods.  It was a little big at the shoulders, so I pulled up and folded about 3/4-inch of the front at the shoulders to the back and stitched the edges and across the shoulders.  Fortunately, the side straps were adjustable.  

   We also found a pair of protective paintball gloves, which Aidan will also use in the future since he is big into paintball.

    The white embroidered letters were found at Hobby Lobby.  They had adhesive on the back, but it was necessary to slipstitch around the edges to secure to the netting on the back of the vest. 

   A little warning about the letters!  I went to two other craft and fabric stores and several of the letters were already sold out!  I did not realize what a run there would be on embroidered letters!  Then I remembered Hobby Lobby and we bought the last ‘S’ in their store!   If you are buying letters, do this early!


   The green Nerf gun Aidan has was sprayed with a few coats of black spray paint.  The orange on the tip, the side, the reload clip, and the top, were taped off and left orange for safety.

   Involving the kids in the whole costume making process is important.  It didn’t come together overnight.  We searched online for some of his items and went shopping for others.  Since he chose it, he was pretty happy with his costume, too.

Tip #2 Candy Container

   In the past, we used a medium-sized basket to hold candy for the trick-or-treaters.  We continually replenished the supply.  Last year, we decided to use a plastic basket from the dollar store, which holds all of the candy.  It’s orange, perfect for Halloween, and really works well.

    We started the evening with a full basket and these few pieces of candy were all that was leftover. 

Tip #3 Carving the pumpkins

   Since the grandkids were coming to our house for Halloween, Dave cleaned out and prepared the pumpkins for them to carve after school.

  They were excited to carve the pumpkins they had chosen the week before.  The little carving kits available today are safer than the knives we used years ago.  We have a pretty good assortment of tools for them to use.  It was interesting to see their masterpieces.


 Tip #4  Food!

    Knowing that there will be an abundant amount of candy consumption on this night, we always have good food ready to go when the family and friends arrive. Having full bellies, the kids are less likely to overload on the sweets.  It has become a tradition here to have the crock pot full of chili, hot and ready to go, for everyone.


    Our homemade chili recipe is quick and easy.  It can be made the night before and reheated before serving.  (We make two pots of this chili to be sure we have enough.)

   Bowls and mugs are set out to self-serve the chili.  It’s easier to take the mugs outside, weather permitting, and enjoy the parade of trick-or-treaters.  Shredded cheese for the chili, crackers, and butter are also made available.

    There is also a vegetable platter full of celery, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and ranch dip.  Hard to resist, the kids start snacking on those as soon as they come into the house.

   We also have plenty of milk to serve the kids!  Milk is good with chili, but it is perfect for chocolate, too!

    The kids sit at the kitchen table, go through, and sort their stash of trick-or-treat candy before they head home.  We get to enjoy their tales of the night and the episodes that they enjoyed.  It’s a calm ending to an exciting day.

    A Few Tips For A Great Halloween Night could help cut down on Halloween Chaos!


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DIY Pirate Costume – How To – Your Little Girl Would Love This

DIY Pirate Costume – How To – Your Little Girl Would Love This

October 27, 2016

Part 1 -DIY Pirate Costume

    Your Little Girl Would Love This DIY Pirate Costume, too!  My granddaughter, Sophia, has decided she wants to be a pirate for Halloween.  Remember, she and I had planned on making a ‘voodoo doll’ costume, but her mother nixed that one?  


   Well, she finally decided upon a ‘pirate costume’.  The tricorn pirate hat in an earlier post was for this costume.  It turned out so beautiful!

  She already has some brown boots to wear.  We decided to use black and brown for the costume.  There is brown trim on the hat and brown in the fabric for the waist cincher.

   First, I made a little white dress from this McCall’s pattern and some leftover white fabrics I had.  Yes, I said ‘fabrics’, plural.  I found some white fabric that seemed to suit the top well, but there wasn’t enough to make the skirt from it, too.  

   Then, I remembered I had some white satin fabric, found it, and made the skirt from it.  The pattern instructions were followed for the most part for the dress, except for adding lace to the neck and sleeves. 

    The lace was added before inserting the elastic.  The lace was stitched up to the opening for the elastic, cut long enough to cover the opening.  The elastic was sewn together, the loose lace was stitched on top of the stitching. 

   Now, it awaits Sophia’s return so we can adjust the hem and finish it.  Some additional lace will adorn the skirt, too.


    While this pattern has overskirt patterns, which we could have used, we found this beautiful gathered black fabric!

 We could imagine this as an overskirt, shorter in the front and longer in the back.

    This pattern has a cumberbund, but I used an adult pattern for a waist cincher and cut it out of muslin first.  (I couldn’t find a waist cincher pattern for little girls.)  The seams were sewed up and I actually pinned this to Sophia’s top with the seams out.  (The cincher uses laces, which I obviously didn’t make for the muslin version.)  Adjustments were made, taking in a little here and there.

   At first, the plan was for the laces to be tied in the back, like the pattern.  Since we planned for the two sides of the black fabric to come together in the front, the plan changed.  The back of the muslin was stitched together and the front was cut in half and a seam allowance was added.

    You can see that I wrote right on the muslin so I would remember to cut out the back on the fold and which piece was the back, the side, and the front.  The front was drawn out on paper and re-figured.

   The new front piece drawn on the paper was used to cut the faux-leather fabric and the lining fabric.  The rest of the pieces from the muslin were used as patterns to cut the remaining pieces.

    Black fusible interfacing was also cut for the two front sections and ironed on for added support for the grommets.  Then, the brown fabric was stitched together.

   Some black satin fabric was used for the lining.  The pieces were cut and sewn together just like the brown fabric.  The seams were ironed and right sides together, the brown fabric and the lining were pinned and stitched, leaving the bottom edge open.


    The top and the front edges were understitched as much as possible so the facing would roll to the inside and not be seen.   Then, the waist cincher was turned right side out and ironed.  A pressing cloth was used to protect this faux-leather fabric.


    The black gathered fabric was laid out on the cutting board and cut straight.  The fabric was then divided into four equal sections across the top of the straight edge and marked with straight pins.  Two rows of basting stitches for the gathering were sewn the whole width of the fabric. 

   This fabric is nylon so it won’t unravel!  After sewing it to the top, all we have to do is cut it to the right length! 

   With the right sides together, the gathered edge of the skirt top was pinned to the bottom edge of the waist cincher.  The edges of the black fabric were pinned to the front edges.  The middle pin was pinned to the middle back of the waist cincher.  The other two pins were matched and pinned to the side seams.

   Then, the basting threads were pulled to gather, adjusted, and pinned.  The gathered edge was stitched to the waist cincher, leaving the facing loose.

  The facing was pinned to the cincher over the top of the gathered edge and sewn leaving an opening about five inches wide in the center back section.

   Then, the seam allowance at the corners was clipped to allow for sharp corners when turned out, the skirt was pulled through the opening, and the cincher was pulled right side out. The cincher was then pressed again.  The opening was pinned to the skirt and blind-stitched closed.


   The placement for the grommets was marked with straight pins and an awl was used to mark the holes.  The grommets were then applied with a grommet plier. ►How to Apply Grommets.

   Sophia comes today to try on the dress and we will decide on the hem length.  We will also cut the over skirt and decide whether to cut it up shorter in the front, creating a high-low look, or not.  Can’t wait to see it on her!…

  Part 2 – The reveal and finishing touches for this will follow this week, but I am sure Your Little Girl Would Love This Pirate Costume, too!


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The Garden And Its Welcome Visitors

The Garden And Its Welcome Visitors

October 24, 2016

       The Garden And Its Welcome Visitors is ever changing.  This female Cooper’s hawk has discovered the bird feeder, too.  While she may have discovered it earlier unbeknownst to me, I caught sight of her and captured this shot of her in the trees out back this past week.  Notice how her tail is fanned!   As you can imagine, the ever wary little birds at the feeder scattered and disappeared quickly.

   Apparently, these medium-sized hawks are a common sight at bird feeders.  Last year, I got a shot of a baby hawk in the trees.  The hawks are a common sight flying over the woods.  There is an abundance of squirrels, chipmunks, and smaller birds here in our own backyard.  It is really not surprising they are here.

   Unfortunately, I was distracted for a few minutes by other matters and by the time I got back, the hawk was gone.  This picture reminds us of what a gorgeous bird the hawk is.

    Speaking of gorgeous, the roses are still blooming in the garden!  This little bumblebee is a welcome visitor.  If you want bumblebees in your garden, plant’Monarda’, also known as ‘bee balm’.  The bumblebees are thick on those plants when they are blooming throughout the summer.  And they love the Liatris, too!  Little birds eat the seeds from these two plants, too.


  The roses in the garden will continue to bloom until we have a hard frost.  I love the red roses, but this climbing rose is so unusual.  You can see why the name is “Jacob’s Coat”!


  The petunias in the pots flanking the front door have been replaced with “Ashley Dark Orange”  chrysanthemums.  The rusty color reflects the autumn colors in the decor throughout the house now, too.  

   The tree leaves have been changing color and some have already fallen.  Yes, Fall is here.


   The thought was that I would just use a bird house and pry the front off, cut the bamboo, and fill the house with it.   I searched for a bird house. 

   In the ‘unfinished wood’ section at Hobby Lobby, this little house caught my eye!  They had a ladybug house!

   I had a coupon!  Lol!  So, for six bucks, this little ladybug house came home with me.  There is bamboo in the top section.  Pine cones in the bottom section.  Not sure what is supposed to be in the middle section.  Does anyone know? Please, comment below if you do!

   Haven’t decided for sure how to paint this little house, but I’m thinking it might need a tin roof.  That will be a project for this winter and it will be ready for spring next year.  Yes, I am already thinking of next spring, my favorite time of year!   

Yes, The Garden And Its Welcome Visitors is ever changing.



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How To Easily Make A Tricorn Pirate Hat!

How To Easily Make A Tricorn Pirate Hat!

 Make A Tricorn Pirate Hat!

October 20, 2016

   How To Easily Make A Tricorn Pirate Hat?   It is so simple you won’t believe it. This hat was most assuredly less expensive and nicer than those at the costume store.

    Sophia has decided she wants to be a pirate for Halloween this year.  She began sharing her idea of what the costume should look like.  She was insistent that she wanted this particular style of hat.  

    I searched for instructions on how to make a tricorn pirate hat and then remembered  I have a book on making historic hats.  Instructions for making a tricorn hat were in the book , but I also searched on the internet.  During the search, I realized it was simply made from a wide brimmed hat!  Seriously!

    Shopping at Jo-Ann’s Fabric Store, I stumbled across this black felt hat.  My concern for buying an adult hat was that it might be too big for Sophia.  This hat has a ribbon inside that allows you to tighten it!  Perfect!  The 50% off coupon I had was another bonus! It ended up being $7.50.

   *** (This picture was lightened so the ribbons were visible.)

    The first step for this makeover was adding trim.  Remember you have to add the trim to the underside in order for it to show when it is turned up and secured.

   The trim used for this hat is brown.  The leather-look fabric we chose for the waist cincher is also brown, which will coordinate nicely.  Her dress will be white with touches of lace and the overskirt will be this gorgeous gathered black fabric. You can see how nicely it will coordinate!

   The trim, which I had leftover from a curtain project, was glued to the outer edge starting at the back of the hat.    I didn’t want the place where both ends met to show in the front or on the side.  It actually met together nicely and is not overly apparent.  (Tacky glue was used for this.)

    The next step was turning up the brim in the middle of the back and hand stitching it with needle and thread to secure it.  A button with a shank was attached using the same thread and needle.  This covered up the thread where it was tacked, although, the thread was hidden in the trim pretty well.  The buttons just give a nice effect.

    With the back of the hat facing away from me, the sides were bent upward and pinned, creating a nice corner in the front.   A pin was inserted into both sides of the hat brim and into the crown to hold in position.

   Trying to match the same positioning of the button sewn on the back, the brims were tacked up and buttons attached at the same time.

    Seriously, how much easier could this be?  Black felt wide-brimmed hats should be easy to find this time of year.  The trim and buttons can be changed easily to coordinate with your own costume.  We could even add a white feather to this or some other baubles, but that will be left up to Sophia.  Can’t wait for her to see it!

   Anyway, if a pirate costume is on your agenda this year, you now know “How To Easily Make A Tricorn Pirate Hat!”   



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White Chocolate Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes

White Chocolate Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes

October 13, 2016

   White Chocolate Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes!  Doesn’t that sound delicious?   Well, it did to me.  In my saved recipes, I have a delicious raspberry swirled cheesecake recipe.  It is really tasty, but I wanted to create a ‘white chocolate’ version using the mini cheesecake pan.


    Wanting to keep the crust light, ‘shortbread cookies‘ seemed the right way to go.  These are so easy to make!  Only 5 ingredients away from some good cookies! After processing a few cookies for the cheesecake crusts,  I displayed the leftover cookies on a platter under a clear cake dome.  They did not last long.


   To tell you the truth, most of the recipes for shortbread cookies tell you to roll the dough out on a lightly floured board.  I don’t do that.  I use wax paper.  You can easily divide the dough in half, put each half on a sheet of wax paper, form them into disks, refrigerate for a few minutes, and roll them out sandwiched between the wax papers.

   No mess, no fuss.  After cutting out the cookies, the scraps were all gathered into another ball, flattened, refrigerated for a few minutes, and cut into more cookies.  It works perfectly.

    Of course, you could buy some shortbread cookies but these are so quick, easy, and you already have the ingredients, right? 

White Chocolate Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes


3/4 cup ground Shortbread Cookies
1/4 cup ground Almonds
2 Tblsp. Sugar
1 pinch of Salt
2 Tblsp. unsalted butter, melted

   Combine the cookie crumbs, ground almonds, sugar, salt, and melted butter.  Divide evenly and press into the bottom of the mini cheesecake cups.

  Bake from 8 – 10 minutes at 350°.   Remove from the oven and set aside.

Turn the oven down to 300°.


Mini Cheesecakes batter:  
1/4 cup White Chocolate chips
2 (8-oz.) bars of Cream Cheese
1/3 cup Sugar
1 pinch Salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1/8 tsp. Almond Extract
*Raspberry Jam


     Melt the white chocolate chips with the heavy cream in a glass bowl in the microwave.  * Microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring after each 20-seconds until the chips melt and can be stirred and the sauce is completely smooth.  Set aside.


   In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
Add the sugar and salt and mix thoroughly.

   Add the eggs, one at a time, mix well after each addition.  Add a little of the batter (about 1/3 cup) to the cooled melted chocolate cream mixture and stir well.


 Add to the remainder of the batter and mix well.  Mix in the vanilla and the almond extract.

   Spoon the batter into mini cheesecake cups, filling cups half-full, on top of the prepared shortbread crust. 

   *Add 1/2 teaspoon of Raspberry Jam on top of the batter.  Swirl with a pick through the batter, being careful not to disturb the crust.


 Continue filling the cups with the cheesecake batter almost to the top.

 Bake at 300° for 20 minutes.

***Since these mini cheesecake pans have a removable disk in the bottom of each cup, they make a beautiful presentation!  I love them!   (We are an Amazon affiliate and may receive a small percentage of any sales through this link.  Thanks for supporting this website.)


White Chocolate Glaze:

3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup Heavy Cream

2 Tblsp. Milk

    Melt white chocolate chips, milk, and cream together in a glass measuring cup.  Drizzle melted chocolate sauce over the cheesecakes before serving.

* Microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring after each 20-seconds until the chips melt and can be stirred and the sauce is completely smooth.


* My range has a warming burner, which works really well for melting chocolate and butter without over doing it.  If you have one, it comes in handy.  It’s not as quick as the microwave but it takes the worry out of it.  It’s really nice when making cake pops, too.

 Raspberry Sauce:

 1/2 cup. frozen raspberries, thawed
1 Tblsp. powdered sugar

   Puree raspberries and sugar together in a food processor.
If desired, strain seeds.  Make a puddle on your serving plate, place mini cheesecakes on top, drizzle with white chocolate sauce before serving, and top with a fresh red raspberry.

    You’ll need your fork for one of these White Chocolate Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes!


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