Thanksgiving Projects

Yes, I’m a little early, but nothing compared to the retailers pushing Christmas in August!!  I feel like Thanksgiving gets lost among the leaves…or rather holidays of Halloween (is that technically a holiday?) and Christmas.  That being said, I’m here to hopefully encourage you to do something a little special this year.  Invite somIMG_1430eone new to your dinner table, try a new recipe or craft or better yet, treat every day like Thanksgiving.  We all have something to be thankful for, even on the grayest of days.

Here’s an idea for a Thanksgiving dessert and a centerpiece all in one.

Take a look at the date on the bottom of the copied magazine page…Country Living October 2006.  Do you think I saved this recipe long enough?  I finally pulled it out last weekend and made the pumpkin-shaped cake.  It turned out pretty good, albeit a tad dry.  We really liked the combination of chocolate and pumpkin, but agree IMG_1415it was not quite strong enough.  If I were to make this cake again, I would increase the pumpkin to 1 full cup and the pumpkin pie spice to 3 teaspoons.  I used two smaller (6-cup) bundt pans and they worked fine.  I only had to do a little trimming to get the cakes to stack evenly.  In addition to the drizzle icing, I spread a very thin layer of chocolate icing between the layers and mixed the leftover icing with the cake trimmings and shoved them down in the middle of the cake; I knew the family would want more icing, and I needed something to support my leaves and stem. I took the easy way out and used artificial leaves and stem (chenille stems twisted tightly together).  I just didn’t have time to make marzipan, although I highly recommend it because it looks so much better.  If you try this cake, let me know how you make out.

IMG_1416

Easy Pumpkin Spice and Pecan Cake

1 Devil’s Food cake mix

2 t pumpkin-pie spice (increase to 3 t)

2/3 c pumpkin (I suggest increasing to 1 c)

1/4 c softened unsalted butter

3 whole large eggs

1 cup finely ground pecans

3/4 c water

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter and flour or use baking spray to coat two 6-cup bundt pans, 1 large bundt pan or three 6, 8, or 10-inch round cake pans if you want to do some serious carving.  Double the recipe if using the round cake pans.

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat using a mixer on medium-high speed until batter is smooth.  Fill the cake pan(s) and bake for approximately 25-35 minutes.  Watch closely and test with a toothpick.  Do not over bake.  Cool cake(s) completely on a wire rack before assembling.  Trim the pumpkin cake halves flat on the side that would be the bottom of the bundt pan before stacking together to form the pumpkin.  If you are using round cake pans you will need to carve the cake into a pumpkin shape after stacking the layers.  Decorate as desired.  Viola!  Easy peasy!

IMG_1425

My grandson loves to make name cards for special occasions, so I decided to try to make pilgrims hats.  This turned out easier than I expected and I’m including the instructions for you.  Names and/or artwork on the hats can be provided by the little pilgrims in your life.   All you need is white paper (you can use copy paper), black and yellow construction paper, scissors, glue and Scotch tape.

Lady Pilgrim’s BonnetIMG_1413

Cut a piece of white paper (8-1/2 x 11 inch copy paper in half) to 5-1/2 inches x 8-1/2 inches.  Fold one of the longer edges back 1 inch; this is the front of the bonnet. On the opposite side measure in 2-1/4 inches on each side and then up 1-1/2 inches toward the center of the paper.  Mark the center of the same edge with a pencil dot.  With your scissors, cut up to the 1-1/2 inch marks and then down to the center dot.  This looks like an “M” when it is cut out (see picture).

Bring the 2-1/4 inch sides together and tape front and back to secure; it looks like the Flying Nun’s hat at this point.IMG_1417

Now, pull the center point down to the bottom of the back shaping it to fit as you go.  Secure with tape.  Punch a small hole in each side of the front of the bonnet.  Tie a knot in the end of a 6-inch piece of string or ribbon and pull the unknotted end through the hole.  Repeat on the other side.  Tie a bow with the ribbons to hold the bonnet in place.  All done.IMG_1419

Man’s Hat

From black construction paper cut a 6-inch diameter circle for the brim of hat.  Cut a 4″ x 9″ rectangle of black paper.  Cut a 1-1/2 inch x 8-1/2 inch piece of white paper and a 2-1/2 inch x 3-1/4 inch piece of yellow construction paper.  Look at the picture above for the finished hat to use as an example for the man’s hat.IMG_1414

Glue the strip of white paper 1/2 inch above one long edge of the large black rectangle.  When glue is dry roll the rectangle into a cylinder and tape inside and out to hold in place.  Do not fold or crease this piece.  Poke a hole in the center of the round piece of black paper and then cut pie-shaped wedges, approximately 2-1/2 inches, toward the outside of the circle.  Fold these wedges up into the center of the cylinder and tape.  Cut the center out of the yellow rectangle leaving 1/2 inch borders on all sides and glue on top of the white band at the front of the hat.  I did not cover the top of the hat, but you can if you like.  All done!

 

 

thanksgiving3

COMING NOVEMBER 30, 2015

WINDWARD SECRETS

Visit me at http://www.KathleenAndrewsDavis.com

Turkey Talk…

The Flying Turkey

Yes, I know turkeys do fly, but not like this one.  A little background is needed to understand our flying turkey.  My dad was a tall man, 6 feet 4 inches, large boned, but never overweight.  While serving as a B29 gunner in the United States Air Force during World War II, because of his height, he often lifted propellers on and off planes from a scaffold like stand.  Being tall does have advantages but also disadvantages; the repeated strain resulted in a stomach injury which was repaired by removing most of his stomach.  Yes, today this would be comparable to stomach surgery for obesity…certainly nothing he ever needed.  Anyway, Dad was hungry all the time, ate frequently, and never gained an ounce.  With four kids and his insatiable appetite, he took over the majority of the cooking at home so there was always plenty to eat. He became a master on the charcoal grill and loved cooking for holidays.  To Dad, the word “holiday” equated BIG turkey dinner.  He refused to consider a turkey that weighed less than 25 pounds and thirty pounds was his preferred size…lots of leftovers.  Everything he cooked was done super-sized and leftovers were fine with us, except for the macaroni salad that he made in a large, electric roaster pan. Now this did get old and to this day I have to think twice when my husband requests it.  Dad’s was the best though!

Not only was my dad known for his large size, he was also known for his large Irish temper (he was born on Saint Patrick’s Day).  His temper was lightning fast and peppered with expletives which Mom abhorred.  We kids would walk around him cautiously for hours after an explosion until one day he asked what was wrong.  When explained, he was amazed that we were still upset because he had forgotten the incident almost immediately.

We lived in a large house with a back staircase that came down to a hallway at the back of the house. We used the back more than the front staircase because the hallway led from the kitchen to the laundry room and a small TV room.  One Thanksgiving I was walking from the TV room to the kitchen as Dad was checking the turkey in the oven.  Just as I got to the kitchen doorway he was pulling the oven rack, with the monstrous turkey in the pan, out of the oven.  In the blink of an eye, the turkey was out of the pan and sliding across the kitchen floor.  The kitchen was approximately 16 feet square and that bird slid the whole way across the kitchen and hit the opposite wall.  I froze waiting for the inevitable explosion from Dad.  To this day, I’m still surprised at his reaction.   Looking up from his bent position over the empty pan he said, “did you see that?”  He was as surprised as I was. He had overcompensated because of the size of the turkey and pulled the oven rack so hard the turkey took flight.

I don’t remember any further conversation. We flew into action, retrieved the turkey, washed it off, returned it to the oven, and then scrubbed the floor.  “Don’t tell anyone,” was his only admonishment.  Who was I to disagree because there was no where we were going to get another turkey in those days when all stores were closed on holidays. As the turkey cooked and the mouth-watering smell permeated the house the family and guests started to arrive.  I remember setting the long dining room table for dinner and wondering what anyone would say if they knew.  All through the meal people complimented Dad on his delicious turkey. He would graciously accept the compliment, then look at me and wink.  The dining room table seemed a mile long that day.  I don’t remember when we told Mom and my siblings, and I don’t know if they remember but I do.  It was the best Thanksgiving ever because it was our special secret.  No one got sick and we laughed about it for years. Moral of the story, be careful when checking the bird!

EASY PEAZY TURKEY PROJECT FOR KIDS

DSCN2592

When I was in second or third grade, can’t remember which, my Mom was our Brownie Troop Leader. I’m not really sure, but I think she took the job because no one else would.  Mom could sew, knit, and bake the best pies and cookies, but she was not really a crafter and you’ll see why. This is an easy project and I still love it, but at the time I questioned my mother’s sanity. She had us chew bubble gum and then use that in place of the clay I suggest here.

For each turkey you will need:

One round pine cone. Any size will do because turkeys come in all sizes.

One hunk of clay approximately the size of a large walnut. Color doesn’t matter.

One 12-inch, red chenille stem (pipe cleaner to those of us over 40, okay 50).

One or two paper cupcake liners. The larger the pine cone the more you need. Color doesn’t matter.

Directions: Roll the clay into a ball and then flatten slightly on a flat surface. This is the base to hold your turkey.

Shape the chenille stem into a circle and twist the ends together tightly. Pull the twisted ends in between the pedals at the larger end of the pine cone. Twist the circle tightly at the opposite side of the pine cone for what will be the turkey’s neck. Shape the remaining pipe cleaner to look like the head and wattle of a turkey. Now don’t get crazy this is not fine art, just do the best you can. Stick the pine cone into the clay.

Fold the cupcake liners in half and position them in the pine cone pedals at the opposite end from the turkey’s head for his tail feathers. If you like you can use crayons to color feathers on the cupcake papers, leave them blank, or write the names of your guests on the tails and use them as place markers on your Thanksgiving table. This is a crazy, old-fashioned, fun project but my grandchildren think the turkeys are the greatest!

Busy Mommy Tip: If your children are old enough to get toys out of the toy box or wherever you keep them, they’re old enough to put them away when they’re finished playing. Start good habits early. It makes life much easier in the long run.

Food For Thought: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl. I highly recommend this book for teens.

Keep sending those entries to the Readers’ Contest digitalbookcoverupdated (2)

Enter to win a free copy of Emerson’s Attic, The Blue Velvet. Place your name and mailing address in the comment section at the bottom of the page and submit it to me. Ten lucky people will receive a copy of the book mailed to their home. Last day to enter will be Tuesday, December 9th. Winners’ names will be drawn on December 10th and announced in the following blog. Don’t just enter because you like free things, upcoming contests will be based on questions from the book. If you don’t win you can still enter future contests by ordering your own copy from amazon.com and reading it.

Reminder:  Friday November 21st, I’m doing an author blog interview on the http://hauntedorchid.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default. Orchid does a great job reviewing books and her blog site is a feast for the eyes. Little play on the Thanksgiving theme there…feast…get it?  Book review blogs are great for finding appropriate reading for your entire family.

 House for Sale

The Rosedawn Plantation – designed and constructed by the Lawbre Company is a magnificent statement in the Antebellum Southern Classical Greek Revival tradition. The Rosedawn contains three floors with twelve rooms and measures 55″ Wide x 26″ Deep x 37″ High.  The Rosedawn is the ultimate in dollhouses and the perfect gift for daughter or granddaughter. Visit Lawbre.com to appreciate their craftsmanship.

The Rosedawn, completely electrified and all but one room meticulously decorated, is being offered for sale to the highest bidder (over the owner’s pre-determined minimum) with or without the existing furniture.  If you want a superior quality dollhouse and don’t have the time or interest in doing the detail work, this is the house for you.  If you are a miniature enthusiast you will recognize the quality of this house and an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

The house is located in the Maryland suburbs outside Washington DC  and is large and significantly heavy.  The successful bidder will be responsible for picking up the house or arranging for packing and shipping.  The original shipping crate is available.

Please send bids to me with your contact information and I will forward them to the owner for consideration.  Christmas is just around the corner…don’t delay.

front of house  3mens room 220141028_121122Bathroom 1

 

 

Autumn – the season of colors and change

I love shuffling through colored leaves and the cooler temperatures with the hint of winter on the wind that fall brings.  Visiting farms to pick your own apples and pumpkins, the excitement of trick or treat and Halloween parties no sooner end then we are launched into the holiday season.

“Yellow, Orange, Green, and Brown, All the leaves keep falling down!”  These perfect words, for describing fall, come from a little book entitled Leaf Trouble by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church.  It’s a sweet book about a squirrel named Pip who doesn’t understand why his tree is dropping its leaves.  Leaf Trouble is the perfect bedtime read for young children.  Unfortunately, the book can only be purchased through Scholastic Books.  Ask your child’s teacher when the next book fair at your school will be or if she can order it for you.

Thanksgiving.  For me, this is the forgotten holiday squeezed in between Halloween and Christmas.  Somehow it never seems to get the attention it deserves at my house.  I don’t decorate as much, I don’t get to watch the parades on TV any more, and I’m already tired just thinking about the upcoming month!  For some, Thanksgiving is the most important day of the year spent with family and friends, as it should be.  For others, it’s the point the stress of the holidays begins.  So, let’s talk about reducing the stress before it starts.  This would be considered my Busy Mom Tip or rather “tips.”

Get organized. 

  1. Mark all upcoming events on your calendar. Say no to anything you really do not want to do.
  2. Make lists and keep making them of everything you MUST do.
  3. Be prepared. Plan your menus in advance and shop as early as possible for the non-perishables.  Perishables should be the only reason you need to shop a few days before the event.
  4. Cook and bake anything that can be frozen with good results ahead of time.  I make and refrigerate my pie dough and cookie dough as far ahead as two weeks and then only have to bake on the day before I need them.
  5. Shop early. Wrap early.  Decorate early.
  6. Ask for help…don’t be a control freak! This was the hardest thing for me to learn, it took over 40 years of doing every holiday meal myself before I realized I really could ask for help and actually get it.  Ask family members to share the load.  Hubbies and teenagers who drive can help with shopping and errands.  Younger children can dust, vacuum, set the table, haul folding chairs, shovel snow, entertain younger children, clear the table and help with the dishes.  Yup, they really can, and you’ll be surprised how much they’ll appreciate feeling important.  Friends and family will be happy to bring their favorite dish when invited to your home.  If you do this right you may end up only having to light the candles!
  7. Reciprocate. When invited to dinner or a party always ask “what can I bring?”  Make sure the hostess knows you mean it.  During the party and after help with cleanup, no excuses, every little bit helps.
  8. This is my favorite…EAT OUT! We have a local family restaurant that cooks a whole lot better than I do and they’re open on Thanksgiving.  Now all I have to do is convince the rest of the family how much fun it would be…don’t hold your breath on this one.
  9. No matter where you spend Thanksgiving, when you are gathered around the table be truly thankful for your blessings. Enjoy the food, but also enjoy the company and see if you can’t incorporate family dinners more often in your everyday life.
  10. Finally, as my mother-in-law always said when saying grace, “let us be mindful of the needs of others.”

 

Thanksgiving in miniature.   Here’s a picture perfect dining room with everything including the turkey.  Of course, it only looks like this before everyone dives in.  Fitting your family around this table may be a challenge.

  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Thanksgiving project for your dollhouse:  Make your own Thanksgiving vegetable – a mini bowl of green peas. Glue some mustard seeds into a tiny pot or bowl.  Paint them green with craft paint.  Voila! Dinner is served.  Very simple and very adorable!  Look around your local craft store for anything that can be used as a miniature bowl and don’t forget the jewelry aisle!  There are all kinds of tiny items in this aisle that can be used for making miniatures.

 

Reader Contest

Enter to win a free copy of Emerson’s Attic, The Blue Velvet.  Place your name and mailing address in the “leave a reply” section at the bottom of the blog and submit it to me.  Ten lucky readers will receive a copy of the book mailed to their home.  Last day to enter will be Tuesday, December 14th.  Winners’ names will be drawn on December 15th and announced in the following blog.  Don’t just enter because you like free things, upcoming contests will be based on questions from the book.  If you don’t win you can still enter future contests by ordering your own paperback or e-book from amazon.com.

 

Guest Blog

Check it out!  Friday November 21, I’m doing an author interview on

http://hauntedorchid.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default.

Orchid does a great job reviewing middle-grade and young adult books, and her blog art is a feast for the eyes.

Little play on the Thanksgiving theme there…feast…get it?

Do you know what your children and teens are reading?

 

Coming up in the next blog:  The “flying turkey” and more.

Please leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you.

 

House for Sale

 

 front of house  3

The Rosedawn Plantation – designed and constructed by the Lawbre Company is a magnificent statement in the Antebellum Southern Classical Greek Revival tradition. The Rosedawn contains three floors with twelve rooms and measures 55″ Wide x 26″ Deep x 37″ High.  The Rosedawn is the ultimate in dollhouses and the perfect gift for daughter or granddaughter. Visit Lawbre.com to appreciate their craftsmanship.

The Rosedawn, completely electrified and all but one room meticulously decorated, is being offered for sale to the highest bidder (over the owner’s pre-determined minimum) with or without the existing furniture.  If you want a superior quality dollhouse and don’t have the time or interest in doing the detail work, this is the house for you.  If you are a miniature enthusiast you will recognize the quality of this house and an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

 

20141028_12112220141028_121357Bedroom 1

The house located in the Maryland suburbs outside Washington DC area is large and significantly heavy.  The successful bidder will be responsible for picking up the house and/or arranging for packing and shipping.  The original shipping crate is available.

Please send bids to me with your contact information and I will forward them to the owner for consideration.  Christmas is just around the corner…don’t delay.