Friday, October 29, 2010

Creepy Crawly Cheesecake

In lieu of the normal Halloween costume party, several of my friends have decided to watch a Dracula melodrama at a local theatre this weekend.  Before the play begins, our gracious hostess has invited us over for some spooky snacks and libations.  And because it's impossible for me show up to a dinner party without some sort of contribution, I decided to make this quick and easy cheesecake.  The recipe and instructions are compliments of the Hostess Queen Martha Stewart.  I'm always somewhat hesitant about no-bake cheesecakes, but it turned out really well and was ready to be chilled within a hour.  The original recipe called for making gummy spiders, but I didn't really feel like driving all over DFW to locate the gummies called for.  I think the plastic spider rings are a great alternative, and will be fun to wear after taken off the cake.  (You can guarantee I'll have one on!)

"Action Shots"



...and apparently the apocalypse is upon us, because I will actually be wearing a costume this Halloween.  I am making my annual escape to suburbia for Halloween and will be attending a costume party.  It really may be the end of the world!  :)

Happy Halloween everyone!  Be safe!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Comfort Food Staple

There are some foods that will help solve life's biggest disasters.  As a Texan, these have always included chili and gravy, among more traditional foods like chicken noodle soup.  Nothing is better than smothering recent problems in homemade skillet gravy.  So this weekend, when I painfully discovered that someone wasn't exactly the person I thought they were, biscuits and gravy seemed the perfect remedy.

Any self respecting Texan should know how to make gravy because: (1) it's a million times better than the stuff they sell in the package and (2) it's ridiculously easy to make.  There are probably infinite recipes for gravy but this is how I do mine.

Skillet Gravy "Sort Of" Recipe
Breakfast sausage or bacon
Jalapenos (optional)
Salt and Pepper


  • Brown whatever meat you've decided to use, and render off the fat.  Do not drain the fat.
  • Sprinkle the meat with some flour.  Again I never measure, but probably 3-4 tablespoons will do the trick.  Cook the meat and flour together for a couple minutes to cook off the raw flour taste.  

  • Add approximately 1-2 cups of milk.  I usually just pour enough milk to roughly cover the bottom of my skillet.  I also add some pickled jalapenos and the juice at this point.  However, if you're not addicted to hot food like I am, feel free to skip this step.

  • On medium high heat, warm the mixture until it begins to thicken.  Stir fairly frequently to avoid lumps.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Gravy is fairly forgiving.  If it isn't thick enough for your liking you can always toss in some extra flour.  Conversely, if you end up with gravy cement add a little more milk to loosen the mixture.
  • Once satisfied with consistency, use to smother biscuits, chicken fried steak, or anything else.
Enjoy with a big cup of coffee and watch your troubles ebb away.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Last of the Halloween crafts, for now at least.

What happens when you're terrible at geometry and too lazy to figure out how much fabric you need for a project?  You end up with ridiculous amounts of extra purple felt.  But, I'm in law school, and no one said lawyers needed to know how to do math, so I'm not concerned.  However, I did need to figure out what to do with all of that extra felt.  I never liked those plastic pumpkins everyone used for trick-or-treating.  Personalized Halloween tote bags are way more fun anyway, and were a perfect way to use the extra felt.

To make the bag, I basically traced the sides of a reusable shopping bag I had.  I sewed each of the body pieces together to make a cylinder.  Then I pinned and sewed the rectangle base to the cylinder to give the bag the actual rectangle shape.  For the handles, I simply sewed some green felt into a tube, turned it seam side in, ironed flat, and attached to the top of the bag.  Sewing the bags took about 25 minutes each.

To attach the candy corn and the names, I simply followed the same process as the Trick of Treat Pillows.  I decided to change the girl's names to white though, so they'd show up better.

And presto!  A simple cure to those humdrum plastic pumpkins and the mound of purple felt laying around my apartment!

Best news is that candy corn is their favorite candy, and I didn't even know it!  Make the bags all the more sweet!  And  in case you're wondering, those are the same girls who I painted signs for earlier this year.  What can I say, I don't have children, so I borrow my co-worker's for craft projects.  :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Time for treats!

Yesterday's pillow was all about tricks.  The second pillow is all about treats!  It took me about 1/2 hour from start to finish.  I'm incredibly happy with how they turned out!  I'm currently cooking up additional ideas about what to do with all of the leftover felt!  Stay tuned!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Trick or Treat (DIY)

It's finally Autumn, and although Autumn in Texas only means we've survived the days of 100+ heat; that doesn't stop me from loading my apartment up with pumpkins, gourds, scarecrows and other Autumn goodies. I don't generally decorate for Halloween.  Mostly because I'm not a huge fan of the holiday and because I don't like things like skulls and spiders.  However, I recently had an idea about some cute Halloween pillows and decided to introduce some Halloween flair into my otherwise Autumn Harvest apartment.

Pillows are one of my favorite decorating items.  They're the easiest way to change how a room looks, and if you make them yourself they're fairly cheap too.  Overall this project took about 1 1/2 hours (most of that was trying to decide what I wanted the faces to look like) and cost about $5. (I already head the pillow forms.)


  • Felt in various colors (I bought mine on the bolt because it's a higher quality of felt, but feel free to buy the craft squares for everything except the actual pillow case)
  • 3/4 yard of purple felt
  • 1/4 yard Wonder Under 
  • Glue gun
  • Sewing Machine
  • From the purple felt, cut out one 19"x19" square, one 19"x 15" square, and one 19"x12" square.  These measurements will fit a 18" pillow form, which the standard size from most throw pillows.
  • Cut out all the pumpkins and the pumpkin pieces.  There really aren't any rules this.  I play around with different shapes and pieces until I settled on three that I liked.  At this point you can also cut out stems and strips for the vine, but they won't be attached until the very end.

  • Use hot glue to attach the pieces to the pumpkin bases.  

  • This is most complicated part of the entire process.  Take the Wonder Under and lay it rough side down on the black felt.  (The paper backing will be face up.)  Since we're using felt it doesn't matter what side you lay it on, but if you were using normal fabric you'd place the rough side on the wrong side of the fabric.  Iron the two pieces together for about 5-8 seconds and let cool.

  • Once cool, trace the letters onto the paper backing.  TURN THEM FACE DOWN.  The paper side will actually become the back side of the letters, so if you fail to do this your letters will be backwards.  Cut the letters out. 

  • Repeat this process with the pumpkins.  Rough side on the back of the pumpkin.  Cut away the extra Wonder Under and discard.
  • Assembly time!  Peel the paper baking off the letters and the pumpkins and arrange on the 19"x19" square.  Remember that there's a 1/2 seam allowance so keep the shapes close to the middle of the square.  Add the pumpkin stems and vines now using hot glue.  Once happy with the placement, lay a damp tea towel over all of the shapes.  Iron firmly for approximately 20 seconds or until the shapes are securely adhered to the purple square.  Word of caution- Felt Melts! So when ironing felt always keep a tea towel or other medium between it and the iron and use a low heat setting.
  • On each of the two smaller squares, fold the 19" side over 1/2 inch iron flat (remember the ironing tips above), fold another 1/2 inch and iron flat again.  Sew the fold down, keep the left side of the presser foot flush with the fold.

  • Home Stretch- lay the large square front side up.  Place the 19"x15" square front side down on top of the large square.  Line up the left edges.  Place the 19"x12" square on top of both square, lining up the right edges.  Pin and sew all the way around.  When you reach a corner lower the needle, lift the presser foot, rotate the pillow, lower the presser foot and continue sewing.  When finished back stitch to secure.  Clip off the each of the corners.

  • Turn the pillow case right side to, push out the corners, and stuff with pillow form.  


I'm making a slight different pillow to pair with this one.  I'm hoping to finish by tomorrow!  Please let me know if you like any templates to make the pillow or if you have any questions!

Happy Autumn!