Simply Sweet Home

Recipes, Decor, Crafts, Product Reviews, Giveaways and more.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Fall Decorations & Happy Halloween

We got the house all decorated for Halloween/Thanksgiving. I was very happy with the way everything looked. I used the 2 scarecrows/leaves/pumpkins I bought last year. (see last years post on fall decor tips here.) I also added 3 more scarecrows, a couple more pumpkins, a wreath, and some potted chrysanthemums. And I have an electric jack-o-lantern to put out on Halloween night.

Oddly enough, it was my husband that actually suggested that we get more scarecrows so we'd have one for each post. I had no idea how festive he could be. But when we got the scarecrows home, we realized that we actually needed one more, but we may just wait till next year for that.

I also have to brag on my husband again, not only for helping put up all the decorations but for coming up with the idea of how we were going to stand the scarecrows up against the porch posts without them falling down. (Bungee cords/tie downs. They work brilliantly, and the colors of them blend in well. From a distance you can't even see them. And up close, it just looks like the scarecrows have a belt on.)

And finally, I have to ask that you please excuse the look of the actual porch. The previous owners painted the concrete a few times, and we still fix it, and we also have to install some new rails and paint the shutters. I told my husband laughingly, "The porch rails are missing, and the concrete looks terrible, but we have scare crows!" lol. Have a fun and safe Halloween!

Immediate right of walkway/step. Behind this scarecrow, you can see the new wreath we got, a small scarecrow and string of leaves on the window.

Immediately to the left of the walkway/step.

Front of the house. I wanted to get the whole house in the picture, but then you can't see the scarecrows as good.

This green one is my favorite for some reason.

Happy Halloween!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tea Cakes for Halloween

A while back I purchased a huge set of cookie cutters, but with all the chaos of moving and everything else, I had not yet gotten the chance to use them. With Halloween upon us, I felt it was the perfect time to try them out.

When I was a kid it was always a big treat whenever we got to make tea cakes. At my house we only made them occasionally, so I probably would have forgotten about them entirely, except that my grandma used to make them too, and I also remember going over to my aunt's house and "helping" her make them.

The only problem is that I didn't have "the" recipe for them, and so I found myself perusing cookbooks and trying to decide which one of the half dozen recipes I wanted to try. The recipe I tried turned out pretty well. The taste and the texture are slightly different from what I remember, but all-in-all, it's a pretty good cookie. (However, if I try another recipe in the future and it turns out better, I'll be posting it too!)

To give them a bit of festive, Halloween styling, I cut them out in the shapes of pumpking, ghosts, and cats. And for fun, I decorated some of them using chocolate chips. It was tempted to go all out and put a bunch of sprinkles or icing on them too, but I think these taste better without all that extra stuff.

Tea Cake Recipe:

3 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/4 cup shortening
1/3 cup water or milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla


Cream sugar, margarine, shortening, water or milk. Add beaten eggs and vanilla. Add flour a little a time until completely mixed in. Roll onto floured pastry sheet. Cut with cookie cutter and bake on greased cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for 8 to minutes. (similar recipes also say 350 for 10-15 minutes) Note: This recipe makes around 2 dozen cookies, give or take a few, depending upon what size cutters you use.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for October 27

MPM again. Our computers were down for a few days this past week, preventing me from doing any posting until Friday. And even though we're back online, the connection is a little slow. If it doesn't get any better in the next day or so, I'll be asking my husband to "call the man" (to quote Andy Griffith). But I have to admit, a "slow" high speed connection is better than no connection at all. But hopefully we can get it all figured out, and this week will be a lot better!

Breakfast - bacon & eggs, biscuits, cereal, chocolate chip muffins

Lunch - ham sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, dinner leftovers

Monday - Beef ribs, macaroni & cheese, deviled eggs
Tuesday - Lemon Peppered Chicken, chicken-flavored rice, corn-on-the-cob
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Chili Pies
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - chicken fingers & fries
Sunday - Lasagna, garlic bread, salad

For more information on MPM, visit I'm an Organzing Junkie.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Halloween Treats That Will Leave Them Screaming for More

Here's another links & pics post. This week I've looked up some "witchy" desserts to post for Halloween. If you're looking for a Halloween party dessert or just something fun to fix for your family, you're sure to find something here. I think I've pretty much covered all the bases so that there's something for everybody, from the simple to the more complex recipes, from a little bit of sweetness to the decidantly rich. And if you don't like these, there are a lot more choices on the sites where I found these.

Don't you all just love looking at all the fun ideas out there? My hat goes off to all the people that actually come up with these projects. I just wish I had the time (& money for all the ingredients) to try them all. But I'm sure in the future, after we have our kids, I'll get the chance to try just a few at least.

Jack-o-Lantern Cake - This is one of my favorites out of all the desserts I looked at. It's just lovely and very professional looking!

Ghost Cupcakes - I just had to post these up because I honestly wouldn't have known they were cupcakes if they had not been labeled as such.

Halloween Pumpkin Bars - I'm not a fan of pumpkin myself, but I thought these were cute, not to mention very simple. And I suppose, if you're like me and aren't exactly a pumpkin fan either, you could use this same concept with brownies or some other kind of cake/bar.

Scarecrow Cake - Similar to the Jack-o-lantern cake, the decorations on this scarecrow cake are waffle cones and fruit roll ups. Very cute! And this one will be a great Thanksgiving cake as well. Or if you know any Wizard of Oz Fans (my nephew loves the scarecrow!) this would be a cute birthday cake too!

Scarecrow & Spider Cupcakes - I thought these cupcakes were very funny looking & they're pretty easy to decorate too.

Mini Pumpkin Spice Cakes - I'd say these are a little more "adult" but it's very pretty and festive looking! Could be great to serve at a party or family gathering or to take to work.

Chocolate Chip Werewolf Cookies - I think it's safe to say that all the kids will love these. These very elaborately decorated werewolf cookies are actually very easy to make and decorate with assorted candies.

Related Posts: Great Snacks for Halloween, Sweet Treats for Day of the Dead, Simply Sweet Recipe - Spider Cupcakes, Candy Apples: Photos & Links

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for October 20

Breakfasts: cereals, oatmeal, ham & cheese scramble

Lunches: ham & cheese sandwiches, leftovers from dinner

Monday - Chicken Poulet served with beans/vegetables (this recipe feeds us for 3 meals)
Tuesday - leftover poulet
Wednesday - Cheeseburger Macaroni
Thursday - leftover poulet again
Friday - Easy Chicken Pot Pie (recipe below)
Saturday - Eating out
Sunday - Pork chop sandwiches w/ fries

Recipe for Easy Chicken Pot Pie
3-4 chicken breasts, (boneless, boiled and shredded) (or use 2 cans boneless chicken)
1 can Veg All, drained
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c. chicken broth from chicken
1 c. milk
1 c. Bisquick mix

Spray casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Mix chicken, broth, veg-all, and soup together and pour into dish. Mix Bisquick with milk and pour over mixture. Bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

Not sure what to do make for dinner this week? Get some ideas at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Sweet Jack-o'-laterns

I got this really cute treat in my email last week, and I thought it would be a great recipe to feature as the recipe of the week. The idea comes from Taste of home and they call them Sweet Jack-o'-lanterns. These would be such a great treat to take to a school Halloween party or serve at home.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know that I love sweet treats, especially if they are easy to make and decorate (since I'm not much of an artist), and this definitely fits that mold. It's something you can make even if you're short on time, and it's easy enough that you could even get the kids in on the action. And you can make something that's very fun and professional looking without spending a lot of money and without having to be a culinary artist. Excellent!

1 package (18-1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix or cake mix of your choice
3-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 to 3/4 cup milk
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons orange paste food coloring
12 gumdrops
12 black jujubes
Directions: Prepare and bake cake according to package directions for cupcakes. Fill 24 greased muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. For frosting, in a small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, butter and enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Stir in food coloring. Cut a thin slice off the top of each cupcake. Spread frosting on 12 cupcakes. Invert remaining cupcakes and place on top; frost top and sides. For stems, place one gumdrop on each pumpkin. Cut jujubes into thin slices; use a bottom slice for each mouth. From remaining slices, cut one large triangle and two smaller ones. Position two small triangles and a large triangle on each cupcake for eyes and nose. Yield: 1 dozen.

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Easy & Inexpensive Halloween Costume Ideas

When I first started the blog last year, I began writing down a ton of post ideas, and of course once you start writing them all down, you never can get to them all. Anyway, I came across a list of "easy" Halloween costumes last year, and it prompted me to make my own list.

Most of these ideas, you can actually buy a costume for at Wal-mart or a costume store, but they can also be made using items you have around the house, or at least partially in addition to buying one or two accent pieces or props. Either way, these costumes are easy and inexpensive, and a few of the them would be quite interesting to see!

Witch/Wizard - wear all black, plus at a hat & broom.
Angel - wear all white, plus wings and a halo, which can be purchased at a costume store, or make your using wire (such as from a coat hanger) and cover it with material (for the wings) and glitter (for the halo.
Doctor - wear a labcoat and carry a toy/home stethoscope
Jailbird - wear black/white stripes
Cat - wear all black, and purchase ears/tail from costume shop, or make your own
Leopard/Tiger - same as cat, except wear the color of print for the animal you desire
Devil - dress in red, wear a cape/horns/tail. and carry a pitchfork
Cow - a friend of mine had a very cute homemade cow costumes. the pants were made from cowprint fabric, and then she wore a white sweatshirt and hotglued black spots made from felt onto it. (this could be done to make the pants if you can'ts sew)
Vampire - dress in black, and wear a cape & vampire teeth
Ghost - wear a white sheet. And for fun, if you have an old sheet that you never use anymore, you can cut a bunch of holes in it, and be Charlie Brown dressed as a ghost.
Cop - black pants & button up shirt, plus carry a badge & gun
Mail carrier - Wear Navy shorts & blue shirt (or wear brown and go as a UPS man)
Farmer - wear overalls or jeans with a plaid shirt, and perhaps a hat
Baby/kid - wear pajamas and put your hair in pigtails, carry a stuffed animal
Caesar -use a sheet or white material to make a toga, and wear a wreath on your head and sandals on your feet.
Athlete or Fan - wear a jersey of your favorite time. To dress as a fan, paint your face and carry a sign.
French Maid - Black dress/apron
Waitress - same as french maid, only with different colors
Tv Character - maybe someone from the Brady Bunch or Saved by the Bell, or perhaps The Fonz - just wear clothes from that time period

And now for a few unique concepts:
Store Shelf - save food boxes or other items and attach them to a piece of poster board, and attach the poster board to yourself (use pins or tie around you with string)
Bouquet of Flowers - buy several bunches of fake flowers & attach them to an old sweatshirt
Stop sign - make a big stop sign out of red poster board and attach it to your clothes
Playing Card -same concept as stop sign, only make a playing card design
Leftover - wrap yourself in tin foil
Block of Cream Cheese - wrap a box in tin foil, then cut holes in the box for your head/arms.
Mr. Clean - Jeans, white t-shirt, earring, and perhaps carry a mop or shirt. (I always joke with my dad, who's hairless, that he should dress as Mr. Clean) I also think it would be cute to make a costume for other advertising icons like Mrs. Butterworth, the Pillsbury Doughboy, or perhaps a character from some Cereal commercial.
Blogger - This one would be funny & cute, if you have the stuff to do it with. Either use a kid's toy laptop, or make something that looks like a laptop (maybe get a pizza box or cereal box and paint it). And then just find a way to attach it to your hip!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Candy Apples: Photos & Links

Fall is the time for Halloween and the country fair, and no county fair or Halloween party is complete without candy apples. I looked around the internet and found several sites that might be of interest to you. They include instructions/recipes to make candy apples, and they feature a variety of different kinds that you can make. (funny, growing up I'd only ever heard of 3 kinds: the caramel ones, the red ones, and the ones with nuts.)

Each link is described below, and as a bonus I posted a few delicous looking photos for you viewing pleasure.

Ehow - For directions on how to make candy apples - another site that offers instructions on making candy apples (again) - facts & lots of links about candy apples
Cooking Light - learn how to make cinnamon candied apples - Video shows you how to make caramel apples
Wikipedia - the history of candy apples (for nerds like me)
Family Fun shows how to make mini candie apples (pictured below). Very cute!

myrecipes - This site has a gallery of 14 different kinds of candy apples. Below I've posted some a few of their photos. Visit their site to learn more about the photos and find out all the different kinds of candy apples you can make.

Personally I like the Granny Smith Apples with caramel, but that's just me. Though I wouldn't mind a taste of the chocolate or chocolate-peanut butter, and maybe the toffee flavored!

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for October 13

This week is going to be a little different for me. My husband is starting a new job, where he'll be working nights, which means a lot of change and adjustments in our schedule & life, mostly for him, but also for me, since I've grown quite accustomed to having him home with me every night, but also because it's going to change the menu planning a little. I know it'll take me a week or two to get used to the schedule and figure out exactly how I'll do things, and hopefully when I start a new job it'll all come together nicely.

To help myself get a little better organized, I'm going to try and start planning out my breakfasts & lunches too. Before, it was hard to do that because my husband had classes at different times of the day, and his work schedule varied from week to week. It's rather difficult to plan what you're having for lunch when you don't even know if you have anyone to make lunch for, but now that he's working regular hours, I should be able to do more planning & scheduling for all of our meals.

Breakfasts - Bacon & eggs, grits, Cereals, Banana Nut Muffins

Lunches - Chicken Salad sandwiches, Egg Sandwiches, leftovers from dinner

Monday - Burgers & Fries
Tuesday - Pinto beans, Au Gratin Potatoes, corn, & rolls
Wednesday - Three Cheese Chicken & Pasta (Betty Crocker Complete Meal) & leftovers
Thursday- Fajitas
Friday - Beef Stew & Cornbread
Saturday - Leftover stew/cornbread
Sunday - Sandwiches

To view other delicious menus, please visit I'm An Organizing Junkie.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

The One Year Anniversary of Simply Sweet Home & The Recipe of the Week: Coca Cola Cake

Greetings everyone! It was a very busy week for me. No time for posting, as I was out job searching. I had some meetings with a couple of agencies this week and have sent some applications to a few places as well. Aside from that, I've been getting some stuff out of storage at my dad's house this week and am still trying to find places for some odds and ends stuff at our house. And then of course there's the usual errands to run as well. There just aren't enough hours in the day!

But no matter what, I had to find time to post today, because it is the one year anniversary of the blog. Yea! It almost doesn't seem like it's been a year, but internet time stamps never lie (not to mention all the Halloween posts I did last year).

So in celebration of the blog's one year anniversary/birthday, I made a yellow cake with chocolate icing. (Mine and my husband's favorite) My grandmother used to make a Coca-Cola cake, which was a chocolate cake with chocolate icing. I've made the cake myself and it's delicious, but as my husband prefers the yellow cake by far, I usually just make the coca-cola icing and put it on a yellow cake.

For this special post, I'm featuring the pictures of the cake that I made last night for the occasion, and in case anyone wants to try it, I've included the classic recipe straight from my grandmother's old cookbook for Coca Cola Cake. Enjoy!

And finally I want to say thank you to everyone who reads/subscribes/comments at Simply Sweet Home. I really enjoy writing and sharing my ideas and having this creative outlet, and it thrills my soul to know that there are people out there who are reading it and who enjoy my posts. Thanks again!

Coca-Cola Cake:
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup butter
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows (optional)

Sift sugar and flour together. Boil butter, cocoa, and Coca-Cola. Pour over flour and sugar. Dissolve soda in buttermilk and pour in with the above ingredients. Then add eggs, vanilla, and marshmallows. Pour into greased 13X9 inch pan and bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Chocolate Icing:
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons Coca-cola
1 box confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon broken pecans (optional)

Bring to boil the butter, cocoa, and Coca-Cola. Add the sugar, vanilla and pecans. Pour over cake in the pan while icing is hot.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Apple Crisp

This week's recipe is from Taste of Home. It is a recipe for Apple Crisp. I don't get a chance to eat this stuff as much as other cakes/pies/etc, but when I do eat it, it is absolutely delicious.

This is a really great recipe to eat on a cool fall or winter day. It's perfect for harvest time and family get togethers, and it'll warm your heart and soul. Enjoy!

5 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced
1-1/4 cups sugar, divided
1-3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup water

Directions: In a large bowl, combine the apples, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Transfer to a greased 8-in. square baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and remaining sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples, pressing down to smooth top. Slowly pour water over the top; sprinkle with remaining cinnamon. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 40-45 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm. Yield: 8 servings.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Links to Fall Wedding Ideas & Items

During the summer I kept meaning to do some posts on wedding ideas, but I never got around to it. Then yesterday I found out that my best friend from elementary/high school is getting married next summer. This inspired me to do a post on stuff for fall/autumn weddings. Some of the most beautiful weddings I've been too were fall weddings. Fall colors are so pretty, and they create such a soft, romantic, and elegant atmosphere.

For today's post I've compiled a list of links to fall wedding ideas. Some of these are retail sites which sale wedding favors and other items, while others provide information and/or photos about wedding flowers, decor, etc. Even if you, yourself, are not getting married, you may still want to consider these sites if you're planning a wedding shower for a friend, or if you're looking for some ideas for home decor or party ideas for the fall. Happy looking!

Simply Elegant Favors - sells a variety of favors for fall weddings and other occasions
Favor Ideas - more favors for weddings/showers
Fall & Autumn Wedding Accessories - candles, serving sets, guest books, favors, and other accessories
Wedding Flowers and Reception Ideas - ideas for boquets, flower arrangments, centerpieces, and cakes in beautiful fall colors Fall Wedding Ideas & Themes - ideas for fall wedding locations, decor, dress, etc.
BHG - candle centerpieces
Martha Stewart Weddings - fall bridal boquets and a ton of other wedding planning tips and ideas
BHG - Centerpieces - BHG has a ton of ideas for fall centerpieces, many of which would be beautiful for wedding reception or shower

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