Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween: It's Up in the Air

This year, we did things a little differently.
"How so?" you might ask.
Well...we (meaning Tyler) decided to be fun and let the kids decorate for Halloween. I am a stick-in-the-mud. He took the kids to DI and bought the makings of a scarecrow and ghost for outside.
 That, for us, is crazy decorating.
 We also didn't have a real cohesive family theme. We've done Peter Pan, we've done Star Wars, we've done The Wizard of Oz, we've done Calvin and Hobbes. I knew the days of agreement were numbered, as both of my older kids were getting rather opinionated about what they would (or more often WOULD NOT) be for Halloween.
Since last year, when she was convinced to go at Leia, Sheridan has been DYING to dress up as a swan-princess-ballerina. And she actually remembered that in August when I started trying to talk everyone into a theme. Do you know, there's not a lot of boyish costumes that go well with a swan-princess-ballerina? Well, not unless they want to be a prince, which my boys certainly did NOT want to be.

So, we had one Odette (from Swan Lake) and no other concrete ideas. I needed a lot of time to make her costume, though, so it works out ok. (Yep, all but the leotard was envisioned by moi.).
And then, in September, Henry piped up that he'd like to be a parrot.
No idea where the parrot came from. Oh, and he didn't want to be just any parrot. He wanted to be a BLUE parrot. 
"Like on Rio?" I asked.
"No," was his adamant reply. "Like a blue parrot." 
Thankfully, pintrest had some parrot costume ideas pinned, and I had enough time. Those wings were a killer, but I can't complain too much when it turned out just like I envisioned and he couldn't stop squawking when he put the costume on!
And so, I figured we could be a flock of birds. Admittedly, with my maiden name, that was a slightly gleeful thought.
Then Jack said he wanted to be a peregrine falcon. (!!!?!???!?!)
Yeah. That wasn't going to be simple. I thought a parrot was hard? Take a look at peregrine falcons!
Then he changed his mind. Couldn't he just be a bat?
I gave up my dream of birds. Fortunately, I waited to make his because his school only allows kids to dress up according to the class theme. His theme was....Peter Pan.
And he decided to be Peter Pan.
Good news? Peter flies!
Bad news? This theme is starting to be a stretch!

He does make a cute Peter Pan, even though he was already that as a 3 yr old! It was (by far) the simplest costume to make and he was thrilled with how it turned out. Except that he wanted a sword. 

Now on to the littlest Vigue. I thought for a long time and finally narrowed it down to owl or monarch butterfly. When I saw this polka dotted fleece at Joanne's I was smitten. And fortunately, once the costume was done, she was just as smitten as I was! She loved the hat and the wings--I've never had a kid love to wear those all Halloween night before! They were a little trickier to make, but totally worth it for her reaction!

 And then, Tyler's sister had a great idea--he should get a Superman shirt and wear it under his suit! Perfect! Since he wears a suit and tie every day, this was not a big stretch for him! And Superman flies, too! (no picts yet, I'll work on that!)
Watch out, theme, we're taking you to town! was harder to think of a costume that included my big old belly. It is rather conspicuous. I though of a hot air balloon, but that could just get weird. I thought of the Death Star, but couldn't figure out how to pull it off. Then my niece posted a pict of Facebook for my SIL of pregnant-lady-as-death-star (my SIL needed a villain costume and she's pregnant, too). It was too perfect. So, with the help of a few crayons and an hour or 2, I was also up in the air.
And that, my friends, is how you work a random family theme.
I look forward to next year's challenge as I try to meld some completely unrelated characters into a cohesive theme.
Until then, I have some candy baskets to raid.

  The crew getting ready to knock on all the doors of the neighborhood!
 Trying for just one good picture of the 4 of them.
Just one!
 Maybe I should become better friends with Photoshop...
Hope you had a Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

What's for dinner?

...or, let's be honest, this would be a lovely breakfast as well!

Coconut sweet potato waffles with whipped coconut cream
Sunrise smoothies
(I think some kind of quiche would be great with this, let me know of you have a killer one. You know, so you can add a little more veggie oomph).

Coconut Sweet Potato Waffles:
My own twist on a bunch of different pumpkin waffle recipes. You could probably use pumpkin or butternut squash without any problem, but I had sweet potatoes...but I called them pumpkin waffles for the kids since they "hate" sweet potatoes (except they DEVOURED these with a focus usually reserved for pizza).
This is a thick, dense, very filling waffle! It crisped up nicely in my iron, but it will not be the fluffy, crispy waffle you might usually have...
(edit: made this 10/27 with butternut puree. Delicious, but....the puree was a LOT thinner than the sweet potatoes mashed. Those waffles cooked up lighter and crispier.)

2 c. whole wheat flour (I used white wheat, but all purpose would work if you roll that way)
1/2 c. oats
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. powdered ginger
1 t. salt
1 T baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda

2 c. mashed sweet potato (about 2 med sweet potatoes cooked) or 2 c. pumpkin or butternut puree
1.5 c. coconut milk (I make mine by blending 1/4 c. unsweetened dried coconut with enough water to make 1.5 c...blend for a few minutes until all frothy and delicious. Oh, and make some extra for the smoothies!)
1/4 c. real maple syrup (you could sub in 1/4 c. sugar or sucanat into the dry if you don't have syrup, not sure how honey would work)
1/2 c. coconut oil (you could sub in butter or half olive oil, half butter)
3 eggs
Splash of lemon juice

Mix together the dry stuff.
In the blender you used to make coconut milk, blend together the wet stuff.
Make a well in the middle of the dry stuff. Add the wet and stir gently to combine. Do not over-mix! With
Preheat your waffle iron and allow the batter to sit.
Make your first waffle a test waffle! If you've used a puree, your batter will be thinner, if you've used a mash, your batter will be much thicker! Use 1 c. batter cooked for 5 minutes. Spread the batter out a little. If you end up with a puny-sized waffle, use 2 c per waffle. If your batter is thinner, you'll only need 1 c per waffle!
Cook 4.5-7 minutes. (It was 5 min in my iron with  my thicker batter and 4.5 minutes with my thinner batter, but my guess is that you'll need to experiment a little to figure out what works in yours!)

Whipped Coconut Cream:
(My take on a several recipes floating around the net)
1. Put a can of coconut milk in your fridge at least 24 hours before you want to use it. Allow it to sit, undisturbed, for that time. The less additives there are in the milk, the better it will work.
2. A few hours (or the night) before serving, pull out that can of yum and scoop off the white layer on top (keep the watery layer for smoothies).
3. Add a drizzle of maple syrup and whip for a couple of minutes.
This could go a few ways, depending on the coconut milk you've used. It might come out of the can thick and scoop-able already. It might be thick but liquidy until you mix it, and then turn to fluffy cream. You might whip it for 5 minutes and get frustrated because it doesn't seem to be changing! Just put it back in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Usually my liquid frustration firms up beautifully in that time and is scoop-able, whip-cream-like deliciousness....but even if if doesn't thicken up, it adds so  much yumminess drizzled atop waffles!

Sunrise Smoothies:
1 c. homemade coconut milk (or coconut water from making whipped coconut cream)
1 large,  very ripe banana
1 orange, peeled
10 large frozen strawberries (maybe 2 cups? Who really measures for smoothies?)
About 2 T orange juice concentrate (I use a large dinner spoon to scoop out this approximate amount)
1/2-1 c. water, as needed to blend smoothly.
Put orange, banana, and coconut milk in blender and pulse to blend. Add frozen strawberries and pulse, adding additional water to enable smooth blending.
Optional: blend in a big ol' handful of spinach with the coconut milk for some added veggie goodness.