3 sisters. 2 states. 1 story.


You Are What You Eat

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Back by popular demand - it's the Walkush Family Halloween Costume Choices for 2013. Drum roll please . . . (I will wait for the drum roll sound.)

So, while the story of how these costumes came to be is not QUITE as elaborate as the story of our 2012 Halloween costumes, it is somewhat amusing.

The boys talked amongst themselves and then came home one day (in June) to announce that for our Halloween costumes, we were going to be food.

Ex-squeeze me? Baking powder? (Yes! Juice is involved. And baked goods are too.) Did you say food? (Indeed.) Well food it is!

Aidyn was certain that he wanted to be a juice box, and THAT is not a costume that can be purchased, so I spent a few hours to make this one. Please note that he is wielding his straw like a weapon, which MUST be what juice boxes would like to do to us - considering we stab them all the time. (Here's the link to the photo tutorial.)

Jaxon wanted to be a slice of pizza, and thankfully, with 5 costumes to put together, this one is one that we could purchase. He looks delicious! ;-)

Now, I got voted to be the cupcake. Methinks it is because I've never met a pastry I didn't like. This was another DIY project. (Here's the link to the photo tutorial.)

And ANYONE who knows Ryan Barrett Walkush, can probably guess his costume . . . a soda! Another excellent purchase.

And, well, baby Smithers has always been our HOT DOG! ;-)

Finally, some photos of the whole motley crew. I'm sure that the neighbors could see us coming this year!

Hope you had a Happy Halloween, and I hope these costume ideas help you think outside the box (no pun intended except in the case of our good friend, Apple Juice).
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Still Looking for a Last Minute Halloween Costume?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Try this super easy scarecrow on for size.  Remember how we talked about shopping your closet for Halloween costumes?   Well, it doesn't get much easier than this one.  And what could be more seasonally appropriate than a scarecrow? 

Straw hat?  Check
Plaid shirt? Check
Jeans? Check

The secret to this costume is the awesome makeup. And as far as I can tell, I have what I need in my makeup bag already.  But if you don't, a quick trip to the drugstore will take care of that. 

Black liquid eyeliner?  Check
Peachy cream blush?  Check
Peachy lipstick?  Check

If it were me, I would definitely allot myself plenty of extra time to work on this makeup since it makes the costume so special, but the rest of it is a piece of cake.  Happy Halloween to you all!  Only a couple more nights until then!!
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Haunting the Manor

Monday, October 28, 2013

Maybe it's just me, but we add to our Halloween decoration stash each year in the same way we add to our Christmas decorations. 

These are a few we added this year, and some of them were free downloads (for which I have included the links), so you can have them too!

This is a little bit of a non-conventional Halloween decoration - these were rusted metal letters that we picked up at a flea market. They, of course, had the entire alphabet, but with Fall just around the corner, I opted to get letters to spell out "Boo" and add them to my Halloween decorations.

And here are some decorations that include the free downloads I was talking about. The framed print is a poem that sounds suspiciously like a spell when paired with these witchy potion bottles.

The spell (poem) is available as a free printable at Positively Splendid in a couple of sizes and colors. To create this, I saved the 12 x 18 size and then cropped and printed at 11 x 14 with a freebie coupon at an online photo vendor. 

Here's a closeup of the potion bottles:

The labels for the potion bottles are available as free downloads at Love Manor in custom sizes. To create these, you'll need to save, clean, and de-sticker some bottles for this project throughout the year. Different shapes and sizes will add interest to the display. (I also painted all of the metal tops of the bottles black for a consistent look, but do whatever floats your boat.) 

In lieu of trying to find an adhesive that would stick to glass, I printed these on full sheet size label paper, cut the labels to size, and then stuck them to the bottles. I filled the bottles with items that resembled what the labels indicated (for example, Dollar Store plastic eyeballs, eyelash yarn for werewolf fur, chenille yarn for earthworms, glitter for moon dust, etc.)

Here are some closeups of some of the labels that I used:

And then there's my dining room. I have struggled with decorating this room for Halloween for YEARS! It's painted red (RED ROOM, RED ROOM! - Sorry, I just couldn't resist), and I finally figured out that all of my orange decorations were what was "off" about the Halloween decor in that room. So, now I've gone with a black and white color scheme in there, and it is starting to shape up. It will probably morph again next year, but this is what it looks like this year.

Here's a full-length view of the buffet. I covered the mirror in the standard spiderweb that you can find anywhere this time of year, but I swapped out the cheapie spider that comes with the web with a pack of gigantic glitter spiders from Michaels (well worth the $2.00 investment).

The Raven print is another free printable that can be found at Over the Big Moon:

And it paired quite nicely with my little bird friends that you see here.

And this is the candy cauldron. I'm sure I will be sprucing that up next year. It's flanked by two large styrofoam skulls that are adorned with red and black masks, which might make them look even creepier.

And according to my nifty Halloween countdown board, we've only got 4 days left! Hope you're as excited as I am!

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Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic Parmesan Croutons

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I don't know about you, but as far as I'm concerned the 50 degree weather is proof that winter is here. ;-) And that means SOUP!

And I don't mean to brag or anything, but I happen to think that this recipe gives Panera's Tomato Soup a run for its money. It's that good.

It's a delicious soup with roasted tomatoes because if you haven't been paying attention, you know how I like to roast vegetables. Check out these posts to catch up if you're interested: Roasted Pumpkin PureeGarlic Roasted Asparagus, and Garlic Roasted Green Beans. And in the meantime, here's today's installment of deliciousness:

Roasted Tomato Soup
3 pints (6 cups) cherry tomatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
1, 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp basil
1 cup whipping cream

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine cherry tomatoes, 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss ingredients to coat evenly. Spread on a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast tomatoes 35 minutes.
  2. In a large pot, heat the butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, vegetable broth, basil, and roasted tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes.
  3. Using a food processor or hand held blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return to the pot and stir in the cream. Without letting the soup boil, warm over medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with Garlic Parmesan Croutons (recipe follows).

Garlic Parmesan Croutons
1 lb. French loaf, cubed
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Parmesan
salt and pepper

  1. Heat oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Puree garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil in a food processor.
  3. Place the bread cubes in a mixing bowl and toss by hand with the mixture and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper.
  4. Toss the bread cubes well with one hand and continue adding the mixture so that each cube is coated evenly. Be careful not to oversaturate the bread cubes.
  5. Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer.
  6. Cook for 20 minutes, then turn with a spatula and return to the oven. Repeat after another 20 minutes. Continue to cook another 20 minutes. Croutons will be crispy and golden brown when finished.
Note: If your kids are not too keen on schmancy homemade croutons, they'll LOVE this soup with Goldfish crackers, I promise.

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Those Who Don't Believe in Magic Will Never Find It

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Those of you who know me or who have read all about my family's crazy shenanigans, KNOW that October is my month.

So, you can imagine my surprise when Ryan Barrett Walkush called me into the living room the other day to watch THIS commercial:

Look familiar? Mom, Dad, Baby in Star Wars costumes - Check, check, check.

Dogs? Check and check.

Bird - Attempted. ;-)

Let me just say that Ryan had to point out that the commercial is mocking families who dress up for Halloween - because as I was rolling on the floor laughing at the dad's "Weirdo" line (about the dentist who gives out floss - I mean who does THAT???), I guess I completely missed the point of the commercial altogether.

Well, Verizon, that has not been our experience. The families in our neighborhood wait for us to arrive every year AND they tell us that they can't wait to see what we will come up with next. That's the spirit! I mean, Halloween has always been a truly magical night, and planning and preparing your costumes is only part of the fun.

Even though this quote by Roald Dahl isn't about Halloween, it always reminds me of its magic (and the secrets that our family keeps about our costumes, which adds to the fun):

AND, not only will you never find magic if you don't believe in it, but what you MIGHT find are things like floss, pennies, raisins, and whatnot in your goodie bag - I mean, people can spot a Halloween Grinch a mile away . . . Verizon!
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Pumpkin Muffins

Monday, October 21, 2013

One of the BEST things about fall is that there are so many delicious things that are pumpkin flavored, and this recipe is no exception. Give it a try and see for yourself!

Pumpkin Muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup softened butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree* (thawed if using frozen)
1/2 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. 
  3. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add molasses and mix until smooth.
  4. Add milk, eggs, and pumpkin and blend thoroughly. Stir in dry ingredients and blend. Add white chocolate chips and until all ingredients are incorporated.
  5. Fill muffin cups with batter. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes. 
If you don't happen to have any homemade roasted pumpkin puree hanging out in your freezer, canned pumpkin will work fine for this recipe. However, you REALLY SHOULD give roasting your own pumpkins a try. I mean, what else are you going to do with the pumpkins on your front porch come November 1 when all of your Christmas decorations need to go up? ;-)

If you prefer (and this is ALL on you - you can read our thoughts on this subject matter here), you can substitute raisins for the white chocolate chips.
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Black Cat Hooded Scarf

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Just in time for Halloween, I thought I would share this black cat hooded scarf crochet pattern. I made this scarf for my niece, who loves cats, but since this particular scoodie (scarf/hoodie for those of you not in the know) happens to represent a black cat, I thought it would be a perfect pattern to post for Halloween. 

Here's a photo of Charlotte modeling it. Doesn't she look beautiful?

I actually made this a while ago, but as I'm sure you crocheters can attest, sometimes you give your creations away without getting good photos of them! So, now that I have secured a photo of the final piece "in action" I thought I would post the pattern too.

Now, let me be the first to say that this pattern is not rocket science, and it's probably one that you, too, could have figured out by yourself (as I did), so that's why I'm posting this as a free crochet pattern

(And of course, if black is not the color of your preference, I'm sure this scoodie/hooded scarf would also look lovely in orange, gray, or white. The sky's the limit!) 

Note because this was a gift and I had no one other than myself, my husband, two small children, and a dog to try it on, this pattern as written is made for an adult female. :-)  (Although you can make it any length you want.) I made this one with the idea that Charlotte can grow into it and use it for years to come - so if you're looking for an idea for a pre-teen or teenage girl, give this pattern a try.

Add this pattern to your Ravelry queue and enjoy!
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Shopping Your Closet/ Goodwill for Halloween Costumes

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Remember the good old days when Halloween costumes were made, not bought?  I DO remember it, quite well, in fact.  One year, I dressed up as an old lady using one of Mama's dresses and pocketbooks, and shaking powder in my hair to make it "gray" and then twisting it back into a bun. Then there was the year I was a hobo.  I used one of Daddy's old shirts, a bandanna, rolled up jeans, and we added makeup to look like a stubbly beard.  Those were fun costumes, and a big part of the fun was putting them together piece by piece. 

The same can still be done today.  See below for proof that Halloween costumes need not break the bank. For this particular photo, we were actually dressed to attend a murder mystery dinner.  However I think we looked like we just walked straight out of the Clue board game.  Mrs. White and Col. Mustard, anyone?  

So here's how these costumes came together.  Mine was a result of shopping my closet, while John's getup was mostly courtesy of our local Goodwill.  

For my outfit, I browsed my closet until I found just the right dress.  I knew I wanted something simple with a wide swing skirt.  So I choose this one.  I have worn this dress many times before and since, but the difference here was in the accessories.  I also owned the pearls, the gloves, and the shoes, so it was just a matter of hunting them down and putting them together.  The only piece I didn't have was the hat, and I knew it was an important part of my "look", so I trotted myself down to the Goodwill, and they surprisingly had a ton of hats there.  This was was just a little hat with a nice birdcage veil.  I knew it would be perfect, and I must say it finished the look nicely.  Total cost for my outfit was less than $5.00!

John's outfit was a little trickier for us, because we wanted to find certain pieces, most of which he didn't already own.  So the majority of his ensemble came from Goodwill.  In fact, we found his hat, tie, coat, pants, and wingtip shoes there. He added his own white button up shirt to complete the basic look.  As with my costume, the accessories are what make it.  We found the hat and tie at Goodwill, so that was a good start. But my ingenious husband had the idea to pop the lenses out of a pair of old 3D glasses to make his eyeglasses for this outfit.  I tucked one of my scarves into the chest pocket of his coat.  And then to complete the look, I made a quick trip to the party store for the pipe.  It was the perfect finishing touch. Total cost for his outfit was less than $20!

And since this time, we have used Goodwill to put together other costumes too.  Our local Goodwill store is HUGE and nicely laid out with a ton of merchandise to look through.  What's more, as if the prices weren't already good enough, one weekend of every month, they discount their prices even more.  And you never know that you will find.  For example, the houndstooth jacket that John is wearing in these photos was made by Ralph Lauren and sold for about $5.  Unbelievable!

So as Halloween approaches this year, consider shopping your own closet to see what you can do, and for the rest, look no farther than your local Goodwill.  You might be surprised how much fun you have "making your own costume", and your wallet will thank you too!
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Disney World Tips and Tricks - Halloween

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Well, if you've been reading along with our series, you should already know the Basics, have an idea about What to Wear, and know to keep an eye out for Freebies.

If you are visiting Disney World from mid-September through the beginning of November, then you will also be fortunate to see it decorated for Halloween!

Halloween Decorations

Come with us and you will see,
This, our town of Halloween.

Disney does a wonderful job of decorating every area of the parks with Halloween decorations and provides EVEN MORE photo opportunities than you would have ordinarily had on your trip.

These are a few examples:

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Reminiscin', This-'n'-thattin'
Havin' such a good time
Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally
Golly, what a day

I must say, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party is so much fun, it's guaranteed to make you say oo-de-lally (or some derivation thereof). Here's the lowdown:

Disney throws the Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom on certain nights mid-September through early November. You will need to purchase separate tickets for the event if you're interested in going, but it will be worth it. The party is "Not So Scary," so it is appropriate for children of all ages.

If you're going to attend, a costume is not mandatory, but even the Disney characters will be dressed in costume, so you might as well get in on the fun, right? Now as we all know, it is always 37,000 degrees in Florida, so we opted for costumes that wouldn't suffocate us: Minions.

Here's the Minion costume breakdown:

Note: for all of you long-time readers of the blog, I'm sure you think "Eureka! We've found out the super-secret Walkush Family Halloween costumes early!" Calm yourselves - these are not the costumes we will be wearing in a few weeks. ;-)

Magical Events and Schedule

Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.
Put 'em together and what have you got?

After you've gotten yourself dressed and hitched a ride on the nearest pumpkin carriage to the Magic Kingdom by 4:00, you'll receive a special wristband that identifies you as a Halloween Party guest. 

And unlike Cinderella, you'll be waiting for the clock to strike 7:00 because that's when the Halloween Magic begins.

The event runs from 7:00 pm – midnight with a special Halloween parade at 8:15 pm and 10:30 pm and fireworks at 9:30 pm. "So why did I need to flag down that pumpkin carriage for a 4:00 arrival?" you ask? With your Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Ticket, you will be granted access into the park as early as 4:00 pm that day. Well, that, and we know that at Disney, timing is everything.

In addition to the scheduled events, there are two dance parties hosted by Disney characters and a Disney Villains stage show. Most rides in the park will be running, so you will be able to ride them again and again with little to no wait (score!). The party also features character meet and greets with characters that are only rarely seen. For example, Jack Skellington and Sally, all Seven Dwarfs, and a pirate that needs no introduction, Captain Jack Sparrow. This is the photo that the boys got with Jack Sparrow at the party:

And with all of the other events at the party, did I mention the candy . . . . 

Disney ordered 220 TONS of candy this year to accommodate the trick or treating that will occur at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. So, while many people will tell you that this is not the best use of your time (what with all of the other super fun things that you will want to pack into this short time span), if you have kids in tow, you're probably going to come home with a few goodies.

Cast members will give every member of your party a trick-or-treat bag upon entry to the park, and special maps are available detailing where candy stations are located. 

We stopped at every candy station once, alternating left and right lines and we came home with 7.5 pounds of candy combined. Here's the loot separated into three categories: chocolate, not chocolate, and Peeps (which may or may not be candy - the jury is still out on that one).

Now, besides a few generic (bank teller) lollipops, Craisins???, and something called Peanut Chews (which I have never heard of before) - most of the candy looks like standard trick-or-treating fare . . . with the exception of those Peeps, of course.

Perhaps I should make a Halloween wreath out of them. ;-)

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