Friday, October 29, 2010

whoopie pies

Have you ever had an authentic whoopie pie? Me neither. Therefore, I can't confirm if these are the real deal or not. After looking at a lot of very different recipes, I decided that this was the simplest one out there as it calls for ingredients you're most likely to have sitting around in your pantry. There's something extremely annoying about having to go out and make a special purchase of marshmallow fluff just to make one batch of cookies you know nothing about.

When I found the recipe last year, I only decided to try it because it was so straight forward. Which is saying a lot since I'll usually avoid making unique things until I've tasted a real one (hello, macaron). I will admit that there is one strange thing about the recipe and that's the creme filling. But it does work. Eventually and rather magically.

They also taste so much better the second day (or at least 8 hours later, as I discovered yesterday). When I made my first batch, I was so sad when I had one the second day and found them to be ah-mazingly better than they were the first day. I was actually mad we had eaten what we did that first day. What a taste-waste. So. I'm here to tell you to hold back. Put them somewhere you can't see them and eat them on day 2. It's important. They go from meh pretty good, to holy shit I just ate something divine and I made it with frickin' crisco.

These all went to Idle Husband's office for Halloween today and that's why I tinted some of the filling orange and yellow. I wish the orange had turned out a little more, uh, orangey but orange is really hard to achieve. Who knew?

I also packaged some up for a friend since she's never had a whoopie pie either. I had to get a little creative with the packaging since the main problem with whoopie pies is that they have a tendency to stick to each other and whatever it is they're sitting on. So if you want to wrap them (or stack them), I found that using wax paper is the best option. The creme gets a little smooshed, but the cookie stays intact and doesn't leave as much cookie residue behind (and it's important to get as much cookie in your mouth as possible, right?).

Whoopie pie candies. So Halloween appropriate.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

restless rocks

I came up with this super quick Halloween DIY while trying to think of something easy and not too precious or designer-y I could put outside on our porch. I didn't want to have to constantly check whether it was still out there or if the snow had wrecked it.

So what's less precious than a boring regular rock? Nothing I can think of. Plus we have a ton of rocks in our yard. There's a rock border along the front of the house and a rock garden someone tried to construct in the backyard. There's lots to choose from and they're free. That's my kind of project.

This will take you about two hours (depending on how many rocks you want to do).

{what you'll need}

- Painter's tape or masking tape would probably be fine;
- a black Sharpie or other permanent marker;
- a can of white spray paint (this is some cheap stuff I picked up at Walmart for another project);
- scissors;
- and a box to spray your rocks in.

- rocks! Obviously! Choose ones that will easily stand on their own. It's nice to find some where one side is at least a little flat and smooth, but it's probably not that necessary. You'll also want to rinse any dirt or debris they might have lingering on them from wherever you got them. They don't have to be super clean, but it'll make them easier for you to work with if you're not having to deal with dirt brushing off all over the place.

{how to}

Start by loosely wrapping a piece of tape around the bottom of your rocks. You're just doing this so you know how much tape you'll need. Make sure to wrap it around the base of the rock as you want it to stand.

Remove the tape and stick it on to the edge of a table leaving about half of the tape unstuck. This is just to help ease the burden of cutting sticky tape. With scissors, start cutting out little triangles. This will be the bottom edge of your ghost rocks.

Keep going until the whole piece of tape looks like this. You don't have to be precise with your triangles, either. Remember, these are ghosts. They're not perfect.

This is important now. Stick your tape around the bottom of your rocks again, but make sure the triangles point up. That way you won't have a weird, straight line ghost sheet and you won't have wasted all your time cutting triangles out. True story.

Also make sure to really press and smooth out any wrinkles, bubbling, or lifting on the triangle portion of the tape. It's not as important getting the straight edge of the tape on smoothly, because you're simply not going to be spraying down there. You just want the triangle edges to be as sharp and noticeable as possible so by pressing and rubbing them down, you're reducing the chance of paint bleeding under the tape.

Place your rocks, one at a time, into your box so you can spray paint them. Make sure to work in a well ventilated area and wear a mask if you've got one.

Try to lightly spray them, otherwise you might get drips and uneven blotches. You're only going to do one coat and since ghosts are wispy and translucent, you don't really need that much paint.

After they're dry (which takes no time at all), remove the painter's tape. If there is some slight bleeding where you removed the tape, don't fret. I had some, but I thought it added to the wispy ghost nature and I didn't mind.

Now's the fun part! Grab your marker and draw on some faces! I chose to draw some really simplistic faces, but you can do all sorts of things. You're only really limited by your imagination.

I found that, depending on the rock, you might have to do two coats of marker on the faces just to get a nice dark line. Just wait a bit for the marker to dry and reapply again. Also if your rock is pock-marked (like most rocks), you can kinda dab the pen in those little holes just to make sure there are no weird white dots where you want black.


Monday, October 25, 2010

it was inevitable

And...I joined Facebook! I'm busy adding stuff to the Idle Wife page, so it's a little lacking right now. But it would still be awfully nice to know who's reading this little I'd be really happy if you headed over to Facebook and liked my page (there's a handy button on the side)!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday fixations

I've been looking for nice ramekins forever and I finally found some simple white mismatched ones that I think will do the job perfectly. They're all oven safe and I especially love their little glass handles. They're going to be so useful for making individual portions of desserts or french onion soup or for keeping saganaki warm in the oven after frying. The possibilities are endless! I'm a bit sad I wasn't able to find whole sets in any one style, but that's a small price to pay when they were all 99 cents each!

I loved these bottles mostly because of the attached stoppers, but each is really special in its own way. The green glass bottle has a cow and the word 'milk' embossed on it, the printed one has the best colours, and I went for the brown bottle because the ceramic printed stopper is really unique. I'm pretty sure I should be able to find new rubber for the stoppers somewhere, but I feel like it might be a bit of a search.

I also found some embossed glass measuring cups that are specifically for dry ingredients. I have a real thing for old measuring cups. Like, can you really ever have too many?

I loved the shape and the detail on this mirror, but I'm so not digging the colour. Expect a DIY!

current fixations

{skinny jeans and dresses} Yes! I found skinny jeans I actually like! I was really starting to think it wouldn't be possible! Now that I have them, I've been experimenting with a lot of different tops, and I had the idea to try pairing them with some of the dresses I've never worn out. There's nothing wrong with those dresses, I've just always felt like they were a bit too short to wear alone. As it turned out, I thought they looked so cute together, I kinda want to wear that ensemble all the time now. I just have to find some cute shoes!

{glasses} I don't have a strong prescription (thank god), so I probably could get away with wearing them less than I do, but I love the look of glasses too much not to capitalize on the fact that I can wear them. In fact, when I was younger, before I started wearing glasses, I always used to sneak mom's on and model them in a mirror. It's been a while since I got a new pair, and I'm probably due for an update (the jeans inspire, doncha know). I've been hearing about Warby Parker on so many other blogs and I really like their Zagg, Nedwin, Emersen, and Crandall styles.

{finetti} We found this Nutella knock-off (?) at Hellas Foods and thought we'd give it a try. It's cheaper than Nutella and just as delicious. I think it tastes exactly like a Ferrero Rocher and I love (love) the packaging (gah. I'm such a packaging whore).

{acorn squash} I've never tasted one in my life, but as part of my fall decor, I bought a small one a couple weeks ago. I thought I'd roast it up this weekend, and I was suprised at how good it was! I liked it so much more than the butternut. All you have to do is slice it up, sprinkle some salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of brown sugar on it, and roast it in the oven at 400 in 10 minute intervals (turning the slices over each time) for 20-30 minutes (or follow this Martha recipe, even though they used a ton more sugar than my light sprinkle). Delish!

{brownies} Thankfully, for now, I only have brownies on the brain and not in the mouth. Here are some recipes I've bookmarked lately: whole grain, supernatural, salted, and nutella (maybe I should make these with Finetti!).

{dark moody colours} When I was in Red Deer last week, mom had a lot to show me. One of them was the dining room. It used to be a terracotta-style orange, but she wasn't completely happy with it so she repainted it a dark eggplant purple. I've never seen (almost) black walls in person. I've only ever seen them in pictures. Those pictures were amazing, but I've always wondered if it would work in the real world. Well, it actually works quite fantastically. It didn't feel dark or closed in at all. Surprisingly, what really popped was a dark wood china cabinet. It stood out more than her white table or white curtains, and the darker wall colour almost complimented the wood and highlighted the wood grain. It was really beautiful. The only critique I had was that I wished it were actually black and not eggplant purple. I wanted it darker!

{stylish Halloween decor} Even though I don't really consider Halloween to be a holiday, I'm really in love with these tasteful yet totally appropriate (and all completely DIY if you wanna) decoration ideas. Check out this spooky wreath, these tissue paper pompoms, this graveyard terrarium, these stuffed ghosts, these adorable gem and beaded spiders, and scroll down on the beaded spiders to find some super cute Halloween inspired posters.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

chocolate pudding pie popsicles

What do you do when you have leftover whipping cream and evaporated milk sitting in your fridge?

You make pudding pie, that's what!

Or at least that's what I thought would be a perfect use of those ingredients. And maybe it would have been, in a perfect (*cough*martha stewart*cough*) world, but I totally screwed it up. 

You know that moment, right? The moment you know you screwed it, but you carry on anyway? The moment I knew I screwed it was when I decided to add the pudding to the whipped cream before the pudding had completely cooled. This melted the cream and it deflated. I stirred it around a couple times, looked at my crust, then looked at the pudding, and decided to go on with it. I didn't think it would work, but I also didn't really know for sure.

Several hours later, we were tempted to cut into it and this is what we found (rather unsurprisingly):
Suspicions confirmed, I put the whole pie back in the fridge and dreamt about it all night long. That's what I do. I dream ideas. It makes my sleep time quite productive, I gotta say.

I dreamt about just scraping it out of the crust and into little bowls and eating it like normal pudding. Much heavier, calorie laden normal pudding, but pudding none the less. The pudding/whipping cream mixture was still delicious on its own. Definitely lick-the-bowl-clean delicious.

Then I dreamt about pudding pops -- frozen chocolate puddingsicles, and I decided to throw caution to the wind and attempt that instead of going the easy route (because I enjoy the potential for more screw-ups).

in case you're wondering, graham cracker crust with a light whisper of chocolate pudding is really delicious to eat on its own and is part of a healthy breakfast

I scraped the chocolate filling out of the pie crust and into a large measuring cup which I then used to pour the pudding into my popsicle mould. I only had enough to do 7 of the 8 popsicles. Shame. Someone's going to go popsicle-less one night.

Then I stuck my ugly retro red sticks in and put the whole lot in the freezer.

Waiting was the hardest part.

But the results were definitely worth it. These pudding pops are ah-mazing! And, as weird as it might sound, the little pie crust bits that were unintentionally mixed in with the pudding made these even more interesting and enjoyable.

Pudding pie popsicles.  What a happy accident!

If you want to recreate these:
  1. Make - this pudding recipe, but substitute one cup of evaporated milk for one of the cups of milk;
  2. Make - this graham cracker crust recipe. Bake and cool as instructed;
  3. Sample - the pudding out of the pot with a small spoon periodically while waiting for it to cool;
  4. Fidget - you've done enough baking today and want to finish with this already so start getting anxious;
  5. Whip - about one cup of whipping cream;
  6. Sample - the pudding out of the pot again and realize it's still warm (damn it), but you've already whipped the cream so screw it already;
  7. Fold - all the warm pudding into the whipping cream and stir it around and then try to rewhip it and find that that dewhips it more and then finally give up;
  8. Chill - the pudding/whipping cream mixture overnight angrily;
  9. Crumble - some of the cooked graham cracker crust up into bits and mix the bits into the pudding;
  10. Pour - the pudding into popsicle moulds and freeze until firm;
  11. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

chicken fingers aka itty bitty breasty bites (cuz chickens don't have fingers)

I can't believe I've never shared my chicken finger recipe!

Actually, yes, I can believe it. That's because it's my absolute favourite meal. Ever. Hands down. And it's so delicious that by the time it's finished cooking, I'm just too darn excited to eat them and I really could care less about taking pictures.

Except for this time. My camera was within reach and I was feeling 40% photography and 60% eaty. Which means I got the pictures, but I didn't really care so much about composition. Or lighting. Or plating. It was more, I have to take pictures of these but I also have to devour them as soon as possible...hmm decisions decisions.

This didn't start out as my recipe. I found it somewhere on the internet at some time. But I've been making it for so long that I no longer have the link saved, and I've definitely made some changes to the original. And with that in mind, this recipe can definitely be tailored to your tastes. If you like it spicy, add more cayenne. If you don't have basil, use oregano or omit it altogether. If you want more of a garlic flavour, add more garlic powder. It's so important to have flexible dinner recipes especially if you're scrambling for something to make at the end of the day.

Chicken Fingers (serves 2 people)

2 (hopefully) large chicken breasts, cut into fingers, nuggets, whatever as long as they're about equal in size
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup flour (all purpose or, what I use 100% of the time, whole wheat)
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. It helps to spray it lightly with nonstick spray, but they don't always stick so if you forget (like I usually do), it's not a big deal.

Get out three bowls of medium to small size. In the largest of the three, mix the panko, basil, garlic, paprika, and cayenne. In another bowl, mix the flour with some salt and pepper (use your tastes and judgement). In the last bowl, lightly beat the egg.

I like to arrange the bowls in order of use. So I put the chicken pieces some place I can easily grab them and put the bowls in flour, egg, panko order and then I put my pan at the end so I can put the finished pieces somewhere.

Honestly, this part always takes a lot of brain power for me, because I try to keep one hand for wet and one for dry, but somehow things never work out that way despite all the thinking I do about it. I don't know why. The Law of Breading, I guess.

So grab a piece of chicken and coat it in flour. Shake the excess off, then coat it in egg. Make sure to let any excess egg drip off, then fully coat it in the panko crumb mixture. Lightly shake off any loose crumbs and place the finished piece of chicken on your pan. Repeat with however many pieces you've got. Some days, I run out of panko and some days, I have about half a cup left (to which I'm super sad because I love panko and I don't like wasting it). So if I can, I'll usually use the coatings on a potato for crispy fries first and then do the chicken after. It depends on how big the chicken breasts are and if I even have a potato in the house.

Pop the breaded chicken pieces in your oven for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken over and bake 10 minutes more. I'll usually flip them a third time and bake about 5-10 minutes more depending on how they look after the second flip. I just like to make sure they're nice and crispy.

Serve with your favourite dipping sauce. I really love the combination of Sweet Baby Ray's barbeque sauce and honey. Sweet and spicy!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

normal life greek joke

We ran out to Save-On Foods (almost our new favourite store) early Monday morning, because plan-ahead me forgot to buy evaporated milk for my pumpkin pie and didn't realize it until the day of -- a.k.a. halfway through making the actual pie. (Sidenote: Duh. The recipe was right on the can of pumpkin. I couldn't have just glanced at it? Seriously, me. Major eyeroll in my direction.)

So the evaporated milk happened to be in the same aisle as the Oxo bouillon cubes which Idle Husband noticed almost immediately.

Oxo doesn't really translate into any comparable English word but equates to a very rude "get out of here" in Greek. Fun fact!

In case you missed them, here are the others: first, second, third, fourth

Friday, October 15, 2010

bacon waffles

So I feel like I've been gone this whole week and honestly, it's like this week didn't even happen. It feels like years ago when I cooked dinner at home or was home, for that matter.

Technically, we enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving Monday, had some nice pumpkin pancakes on Tuesday, and then... Well, then I had to run to Red Deer on Wednesday and rather unexpectedly, I ended up having to stay overnight and Thursday. So technically I've only been gone two days this week. I'm such a home-body and I'm so not afraid to admit it.

Anyhoo, I have a ton of pictures and fun stuff to share (I scored some major thrift store loot in Red Deer), but I just wanted to start out with this.

Thursday morning, mom and I decided to go out for breakfast at Phil's. I like to think they're a pretty popular breakfast spot in Red Deer. We've been there several times and they've never disappointed us.

Before even cracking the menu open, I had my heart set on waffles. The one thing I still can't make at home = the perfect breakfast out. I definitely knew Phil's could deliver a good waffle. Their waffles are huge and crispy, thick and delicious.

Immediately, I spotted 'bacon waffle' and had to have it. When it arrived, I couldn't help but laugh:

This is seriously not what I was thinking when I thought 'bacon waffle.'

Someone needs to tell them that the bacon should be in bits, inside the waffle. Don't they know that people put bacon in everything these days? Oh, Phil's. Thanks for the laugh (and the delicious waffle).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

pie crust

I'll be the first one to admit it, pie crust kinda freaks me out. I can honestly say I've never made one. I've made lots of other things involving crust like handpies, but I've never actually rolled out a proper pie crust.

And I still haven't.

And maybe I never will now that I've found this amazingly simple, mix right in the pie plate, press into shape pie crust recipe.

Yes, you heard that right. A pie crust you mix up right in the pie plate and press into shape. It's so simple, there are only four ingredients and two steps.

You can find the recipe right here. It's about the most excited I've ever gotten about pie crusts. Ever.

And yes, it's pretty flakey and pretty delicious, and it holds together like a dream. Amazing.

Friday, October 8, 2010

and you thought the pumpkin fixation was bad

Before I found the mini pumpkins yesterday, I found a bin of dried decorative corn cobs. At first I thought they were kinda boring, but then I spotted some more interesting colours and naturally, I couldn't resist. Especially when I thought (at that time) I'd never find a single mini pumpkin. So I ended up with six corn cobs for not such a bad price (let's not beat around the bush. They were firstly interesting because of their price. I likes the cheap stuffs).

I got home, took eleventybillion pictures of them, and then I thought, now what?

There's one thing I failed to realize about pretty dried corn cobs. How the heck does one decorate with them?

I put the lot of them on a platter on the coffee table. Nope.
I kinda placed them around the house randomly. Extra nope.

In all this moving, I decided the tops of them were just as pretty as the bottoms and stopped to take more pictures (I have a problem, I'm aware).

As I gathered them up, I thought they looked an awful lot like a bunch of flowers.

And so my solution was to stick 'em in a vase. Instant modern corn display. No country corns around here.

I quite like it.

Not that I'm planning a big to-do for Thanksgiving, but I still wanted to spruce the place up for it, you know? This'll make the perfect centerpiece. Along with my mini pumpkins, of course.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

the elusive mini pumpkin

I found them! Simply by chance, mind you. It was one of those, 'OMG! Is that a bin of pumpkins?! Stop the car!' moments. Check out the Meadows location of this store if you're looking for some. I love them so much, I now have a boatload of mini pumpkin pictures. So... 

On with the mini pumpkin fest!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

lost and found

I found this picture in a parking lot this morning. I wonder if someone accidentally dropped it or purposely threw it away because it turned out blurry. I actually really love it. Blur and all. I think I'm even going to find a frame for it despite its bumps and bruises.

I also spotted a bin full of beautiful mini pumpkins of various proportions. Just what I've been looking for! Then I got closer, and discovered they had silly faces painted on them. The paint scratched off, but I didn't really want to pay $3 per tiny pumpkin while simultaneously encouraging retailers to think that people actually want ugly silly faced pumpkins. Gross.

Monday, October 4, 2010

carrot pudding

We don't eat a lot of carrots. Or at least, we didn't until I started peeling, washing, and cutting up bags of carrots into bite-sized carrot sticks. Now we go through a small bag every two weeks.

This week, I decided to take the plunge and buy a five pound bag. We'd normally never get around to eating all of that. There's no way. I would have had to make a huge batch of carrot soup -- my usual go-to meal after I notice my bag of carrots have gone limp and rooty in the bottom of the vegetable drawer.

So I got this five pound bag and diligently peeled and cut roughly about half of it into carrot sticks. I left a few of the larger carrots because I would like to make some soup eventually. It is fall afterall.

Having carrot sticks around has actually been really handy. We've not only been eating them raw, but it's made adding them into other meals super easy and super fast. Just last week, I took the handful or two that was left in the bag, blanched them, and sauted them with some maple syrup, ginger, garlic, and butter. They were so delicious, I wanted them all in a bowl just for me. Idle Husband could eat the meatloaf himself. Surely.

This week, I decided to try a recipe I found ages ago for carrot pudding. It was kind of a stretch for both of us. I'm not that keen on carrot salads involving cinnamon or raisins. There's just something wrong with that. Like sweet potatoes and marshmallows. I've never had it, but it really makes me cringe. And Idle Husband only likes to eat carrots for the crunch not the taste. Oh well. You only live once, right?

Be forewarned, this took forever to cook. I didn't have the patience to stand and stir the pot every few minutes, so I went back and forth to the kitchen every 10 minutes for an hour. Yes, an hour. It took a long time for anything to reduce and even after the hour, it wasn't really that reduced. Maybe it's because, as usual, I used powdered milk (like I do in all recipes requiring milk, unless it's intrinsically the base flavour), I don't know. The good thing? It firmed right up after sitting in the fridge for the afternoon.

I omitted the saffron threads. I'm sure they're good. Honestly, I've never had them. I've heard they're expensive, so I've never even bothered to look for them. I'm too cheap. Finally, I used my hand blender and gave this a small blend once it was done cooking. Not too much, but I started to worry my carrot shreds were a little too large. My food processor tends to produce a larger grate than a box grater. The sprinkle of pistachios (pistachi-yums, ammiright?) were good, though it didn't need it. I couldn't imagine having it with vanilla ice cream as suggested. It's perfect just the way it is.

And surprisingly delicious. Even Idle Husband liked it, and he knew it was all carrot going into it. I found it very sweet so having a smaller portion is quite enough (mine made four servings, but two of them were a little on the tiny side). And since I haven't actually had real sugar for almost a month, I totally had a sugar high, giggle-fest about an hour later. Sugar gets me like that sometimes.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday fixations

I improvised this delicious dinner last night based on this recipe here. I've been wanting to make it forever but I just wasn't finding pork chops cheap enough (for me). Anyway, I only pan fried these since my pork chops were of the quick cook skinny variety and skipped the oven step which made this a super quick meal. I also swapped the cider vinegar for balsamic (because there are only so many vinegars I can purchase), the shallot for a small onion, the thyme for simple salt and pepper, and the pure maple syrup for the, uh, Aunt Jemima variety. So yum, I'll probably improvise it again in the future.

Oh, quick tip I picked up in a comment section somewhere: brush your meat with oil and then sear in a dry pan. I tried it out on the pork chops and I thought it was much better than coating the whole pan in oil. I used the oil only where I needed it which reduced the amount of smoking and reduced the amount of oil I used without sacrificing any flavour.

Current fixations:

{rock yards} As seen on a lazy Saturday afternoon of driving around, snooping at yards. The only thing I would do differently is that I would NOT use varying junipers or juniper-esque plants (surprised? And just as an aside, after painting the house trim behind the junipers, my legs look like someone beat me with a bag of oranges. I still have to do a second coat, but my bruises hurt so much I've been putting it off all week). So I think this would look much more modern with a variety of interesting prairie grasses, bamboos, succulents, and leafy perennials.
{nail polish} Joe's fall colours, to be precise. I spotted them on the website a while ago, but only found them in the store yesterday. I bought Fog and Storm, but I wish they would have also had the Orchid colour left because I really like that shade, too. I've been looking for a nice grey nail polish forever so it was so great to find one that's not only really pretty but also affordable.

{skinny jeans} No; I still haven't found a pair, but I'm trying them on like a madwoman. Mom came for a visit on Wednesday, and without planning it, we found ourselves at the Bay. I tried on a few pairs and again there seems to be an issue between waist size and hip size. I really want to find the new improved Levi's jeans, Curve ID. I hear they've discovered that women aren't built like a brick house from their hips up and we actually curve in at the waist (whoa! revolutionary breakthrough for jean manufacturers). I thought they had them at the Bay but apparently not at the Southgate store. One good thing that came out of it was that everything I tried on was slightly too large which was a huge boost to the ego.

{socks and sandals} I used to think this was so dumb, but now I'm really loving the idea (when done the right way). It's kind of the perfect thing for this weather. Especially if you're like me and freeze to death whenever your feet are unsocked.

{the pumpkin pie blizzard} This is the only time -- the ONLY time -- I'd break my rule and go to Dairy Queen. The pumpkin pie blizzard is the most fantastic blizzard they sell and it's only available for a limited time. That's probably a good thing, actually, and thank god for the new mini size.

{plants vs zombies} for the XBox. I know, I know. I totally played the hell out of this for the PC, but when it came out on the console, we couldn't help ourselves and bought it again. The best part? We can play cooperatively or against each other which is the number one thing I look for in a game. The only other thing I wish it had is more achievements. I'm not necessarily an achievement whore, but it gives you something hard to work at. The most I'm working at now is my endless score (if only my PC flag count of 92 could transfer over) and figuring out how to beat Idle Husband since he always kicks my ass no matter if he's a zombie or a plant.

{black purple} Mom sent me this picture of her black chokecherry tree against her yellow crabapple tree and I just can't get enough of it. I wish it were my picture, actually. Those black leaves against that yellow?! Gorgeous! I was really smitten with the bright reds and yellows of the season, but now I can't get enough black purple. This is definitely a potential new backyard tree.

{do-it-yourself handwriting} When I saw this post recently, I loved it so much that I honestly want to write over all of my pictures now. I don't know whether it's their actual handwriting or a font made to look like awkward handwriting, but I don't think it matters. It looks so much more personal and makes me feel like I'm being transported back to the days of receiving pretty letters in the mail. A personal touch is so important, and I'm really loving the blogs who get that.

{miniature pumpkins and squashes} When are the mini pumpkins coming out?! When?! Someone tell me! I want to buy them and have a nice little tabletop display. Yes; in previous years, I thought they were pretty useless, but this year I want them piled in a bowl on my table. I managed to get a miniature butternut squash and an acorn squash, but I was literally picking from the bottom of the barrel. Where have all the pumpkins gone?! (Gross. I just sang that to the tune of this.)