Sketch, bake, carve: Reconnecting with my creative side post-wedding

Art, Baking, Holiday

This month has been crazy! Andy and I were married on Oct. 6 and departed immediately after for our honeymoon trip of a lifetime to Maui and Kauai.

It was magical and perfect, and we couldn’t have asked for a more memorable October.

While I’m sad to have these amazing life events behind me, I’m also, admittedly, relieved. For the first time in over a year and a half I finally have some free time!

This week I’ve been having fun using my free time to get back to being creative and get into the Halloween spirit.

Sketch

The first item on my creative agenda following our honeymoon was to get back to sketching. I’ve always been a “Hocus Pocus” fan and I definitely had the Sanderson sisters in mind when I was creating this pen & ink sketch:

Bake

I also decided to get creative with cookies. I’ve made cut-out cookies before, but decided this time to try something new and decorate them with royal icing — I’m all about trying new things!

The decorations came out far from perfect but they were a lot of fun to make. I would highly recommend this chocolate cutout cookie recipe, which tastes very similar to a chocolate sandwich cookie. Pair it with Alton Brown’s recipe for royal icing which comes out so shiny and beautiful (don’t use my application as basis for judgement!).

Carve

And, of course, no Halloween is complete without a Jack-o-Lantern. Andy and I carve pumpkins every Halloween and I have to say, I think his looks better than mine this year!

Note to self: Next year, remember to buy a carving kit. The chef’s knife just isn’t cutting it anymore!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Festivity, Holiday

As I mentioned last Halloween, we don’t have children and don’t hand out candy, so typically, our Halloweens are pretty low-key. This year we stuck to the basics by carving jack-o-lanterns…

 

Watching “Hocus Pocus”…

And handing out candy and cake to our few trick-or-treaters, AKA: Andy’s younger siblings.

Though simple, we had a pleasant evening, enjoying candy and Halloween classics on TV. So whether you went all out with a party, costumes and haunted houses or stayed in for a low-key celebration, I hope that you all had a Happy Halloween!

How to Make Concrete Pumpkin Planters

Decorating, DIY

During the fall, most of us are overcome with a strong urge to decorate, filling our homes with fake leaves and throwing Indian corn and scarecrows up on our front porches.

In your transition from summer to autumn, I would highly consider giving this project a try. For less than ten dollars, you can create two beautiful and unique pumpkin planters, pieces that you will be able to use for many years to come!

pumpkin

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 50 lb bag of concrete
  • Water
  • Bucket or wheel barrow for mixing your concrete
  • A concrete-mixing tool, such as a shovel
  • 2 plastic trick-or-treating pumpkins
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Styrofoam
  • Vessels to place inside the planters (we used gatorade bottles, but I would recommend something with straight and smooth sides)
  • An exact-o knife or cardboard cutter
  • Spray paint, acrylic paint and paint brushes (if desired)img_0388

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix your concrete following the instructions on the bag. We mixed our concrete by using a shovel and wheelbarrow.img_0397_
  2. Tape a small square of styrofoam to the bottom of your plastic pumpkins (this will be for the water to drain out the bottom of your planter).
  3. Spray the inside of the plastic pumpkins and the outside of the placeholders (gatorade bottles) with cooking spray.
  4. Set the placeholders on top of the styrofoam pieces inside the pumpkins.
  5. Fill the pumpkins with concrete while holding the placeholders steady. Occasionally shake the pumpkins to ensure the concrete is settling properly.IMG_0398_.JPG
  6. Once filled, leave the pumpkins to set and dry. If able, place them in the sun to speed up the drying process. I would recommend giving them 24-48 hours to set.IMG_0401_.jpg
  7. Once the pumpkins have properly set, cut away the plastic using a box cutter or exact-o knife.IMG_0402_.JPG
  8. Remove the placeholder inside each pumpkin.IMG_0415_.JPG
  9. Cure the planters by placing them in a bucket of water or misting them with a squirt bottle.

DECORATE:

We let our pumpkins sit for about a week, giving the concrete an adequate amount of time to set and cure.

If interested in decorating your pumpkins with paint, I would recommend first spray painting them with orange paint, creating a base layer for further decoration. I would also recommend two coats of spray paint, making sure you are filling in any small pores that may have formed in your concrete.

Once the spray paint has dried, you can use acrylic paint and a paint brush to fill in the your pumpkins’ faces.

FINISHING TOUCH:

Last, but certainly not least, fill your planters with mums or other fall-time plants.

And there you have it: two beautiful planters that you can use year after year for under ten dollars. So, what are you waiting for? Halloween  is only 6 weeks away!

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All Hallows Eve

Festivity, Holiday

A holiday that is associated with children and perpetuated by the candy companies, Halloween may not be every adult’s favorite holiday. I, however, have always had a tender spot for it, having loved it so much as a child.With my birthday the morning following on All Saints Day, I have many happy memories of trick-or-treating with my family, dining on candy and waking up to birthday surprises.

outdoor pumpkins

That being said, I will continue to celebrate Halloween into adulthood, even if it does not mean dressing up or trick-or-treating. Here are a few things I did/am doing this year to celebrate the holiday.

I recognize they are pretty traditional practices but they were fun all the same!

carving1. Playing with Pumpkins

Everyone has to carve a pumpkin for Halloween. It is just unavoidable. This year I tried to be creative and carve a sorting hat. Lacking a special set of tools, however, it came out far from perfect. Regardless, it was fun to make. I also separated the seeds from the two pumpkins, drizzled them with butter and salt and toasted them in the oven.

Aside from our jack-o-lanterns I also painted this small pumpkin (featured in a previous post) at a friend’s house. While they were meant for the children at the event, the left-overs meant that a few of us adults got to take part in the fun that is painting pumpkins.

painted pumpkin

2. Treats

Although we do not plan on passing out candy this year, Andy’s younger siblings will undoubtedly stop by for some sort of Halloween treat. While we did buy some candy (both of us having a particular fondness for it) I also plan on baking cookies-and-cream cupcakes.

I have yet to try this recipe but I am sure it will be delicious. I plan on dying the frosting orange for a Halloween appeal.

cookies and cream cupcakes

Cupcakes turned out great! The dye work, notsomuch.

3. Decor

I do not possess strictly “Halloween” decorations, neither having the money or the space for them. I do, however, have a lot of fall and Harry Potter decor that I plan on combining to create a festive atmosphere for our few trick-or-treaters.

halloween display

So no matter your age, I hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween! I know that I will!

pumpkins