Halloween Pumpking Carving - Crack in the Universe

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Every night I watch the stars, because I just know the raggedy man in the blue box will come back some day.

I hope he comes soon, I keep seeing this crack everywhere I go and it's starting to freak me out...

This Doctor Who crack in the universe craft pumpkin is pinned to my Halloween Pumpkin Carving board.

Halloween Burlap Wreath

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I have a minor wreath obsession. I finally decided I need to do more than just collect pictures of them and indulged in making one myself. 

This isn't a tutorial. There are lots of those. This is more of a Hey, lookie what I did! And I only had to buy totally different sets of supplies twice and change my plans for it three four five a dozen times and tear it apart to start over once! Wheeeee!

And yes, I totally pinned it to my Halloween Wreath board!

Peanuts Halloween Display

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I try to do something different on my front porch every year, so I'm always looking for inspiration. This idea came to me during last year's 4,782nd ritual rewatching of It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with my Bear.

In spite of my careful attention to detail - Pig Pen's sheet is dirty, and Charlie Brown is carrying a bag of rocks...

... reactions from other folks have been pretty "meh."

But I've decided I don't care. Because for whatever reason, it makes me deliriously happy.

And this thing with Linus right here? Is currently at the top of my all time favorite Halloween displays I've built.

Look for me on Halloween night, waiting in the most sincere pumpkin patch.

I pinned Linus and the gang to my Halloween Displays board.

Halloween Theme Chocolate Frosted Layer Cake

Monday, October 6, 2014

This cake was the final project for my first cake decorating class. The fall session ended in October and she told us we could do whatever we wanted as long as we incorporated the techniques we'd learned in class, and I'm me, so... there ya go.

I used a tombstone and ghost cookie cutters to get a clean outline on those shapes because I'm not skilled enough to freehand images.  That was when the light bulb went on that I could fudge character shapes in general, and is what led me to being able to make cooler cakes for my kids by printing an image onto card stock and tracing it with a toothpick. (see Blues Clues birthday cake and Pirate party birthday cake for further examples of my ability to cheat at this)

This 9" round yellow layer cake with chocolate buttercream frosting is a classic crowd pleaser that would be the perfect addition to your next Halloween party menu!


I pinned this post to my Cake Decorating board.

Crock Pot Honey Apple Butter

Monday, September 29, 2014

My BFF was part of the original apple butter extravaganza, and when she asked me for a copy of the recipe we developed that summer I pointed her at the blog posts I wrote about it.

The Great Apple Butter Experiment, Part 1: Ingredients and Preparation
The Great Apple Butter Experiment, Part 2: Making and Storing
The Great Apple Butter Sensory Experiment: Hand Pies

She read them and very helpfully pointed out that I'm a moron for neglecting to include a concise, printable version.

This is me, fixing that.

Printable Recipe PDF
Crock Pot Honey Apple Butter

Crock Pot Honey Apple Butter
10 lbs apples, mixed varieties
3 cups apple cider
1 1/4 cup honey
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
 pinch of kosher salt

1) Peel, core and slice the apples. Place them in the crock pot with the rest of the ingredients.
2) Turn crock pot on high and keep an eye on it until you achieve bubbling around the edges. Then turn to low and let it go 8-16 hours (overnight is ideal). Crack lid on crock pot after it’s had time to start breaking down.
3) If smoother consistency is desired, approximately ½ to ¾ of the way through cooking time use a stick blender (for baby food smooth) or potato masher (for applesauce consistency). If rustic chunks are desired, skip this step.
4) Once it has reached the desired consistency, turn off the crock pot and proceed to your preferred storage method.


I pinned this post to my Canning, Crock Pot & Freezer food board.

Blues Clues Birthday Party

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Shortly before he turned 2, Dude went through a phase where he threw himself at the TV while shrieking "Waaaaaaaannnntt Bwwwuuuuuueee!!!" And slapping his hand on the wall a lot and shouting "Cwue!"

So I had a pretty good idea what to do for his 2nd birthday party.

To tint the frosting, I sat one of the clue stickers in front of me and kept fiddling with my Wilton gel colors until it was close enough.

For Blue's face, I used Photoshop to scale down the the template I found here - I traced around it with a toothpick. It's worth noting that I should have actually looked at a picture of Blue before I frosted, because in the show her nose is dark blue, not black.  If I'd noticed that I'd also have done the outline to match the nose.

I chose a font I liked for the number 2, blew it up in Word and printed it on card stock. Then it was easy to cut out and trace around in fondant with an Exacto knife.  I didn't even have to print two sizes, I just eyeballed one of them bigger.

The name banner represents the flag that Blue holds at the beginning of every show with the episode name on it. That shape was easy to freehand, though it would be easy enough to make a card stock template to trace in Word.

I also put 3 paw prints around the side of the cake - I just forgot to take a picture of them. Those I also traced with a toothpick around a card stock template I printed from a paw print image I found online.

Shovel and Pail
Dude talked a lot about Shovel and Pail, so I wanted them to make an appearance. Turns out? It's hard to find sand toys in late fall. Thank goodness for a kind eBay seller who deals in bulk 'assorted colors' plastic sand buckets. I emailed the seller to explain I needed the specific color combination for a Blues Clues birthday, and not only did they enthusiastically agree to help, they also tucked a few little Blues Clues freebies into the package (you can see the stickers poking out of the pail, that was one of them).

For Shovel's face, I stared at a lot of pictures of him. Then I broke out the Sharpies and crossed my fingers.

For Pail's face, I cut the shapes out of felt from the craft bin and glued them on. This was a nice approach because if I messed one up I just remade it, no worries about a permanent mistake. (The challenge is finding glue that will stick - they only stayed on a few weeks with Elmer's.)

Handy Dandy Notebook
For the Handy Dandy Notebook - known lovingly over here at Chez Geek as the "danny guk guk" - I was delighted to find endless options on eBay.  We opted for the one that has several dry erase pages in addition to the paper ones. It also came with the iconic green striped crayons and a pack of extra pages, as well as the "clue" post its I used to help me tint the frosting. This site is listed on the back of it: HandyDandyNotebook.us

Finding Blue herself was a bit of a challenge, seeing as how the show has been off the air nearly a decade.  But as luck would have it, thanks to global intellectual property theft our international partners in capitalism, you can readily obtain a shiny new Blue on eBay for a surprisingly reasonable price.  Just plan ahead - shipping takes a few weeks.

Dude was so very happy, and promptly ran off clutching his new best friend.


Update: nearly a year later, after much of love and roughhousing, she's still holding up very well considering her questionable origins. So if you child can't live without their very own Blue, it's worth the 15 bucks to eBay her from China.


I pinned this post to my Blues Clues Birthday Party board and my cake decorating board.

Special Needs Student Resume 2014 Update

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I knew when I wrote my original Getting To Know You: Special Needs Student Resume post that I would need to revise it as the years went by, because our kids have this sneaky habit of growing up and changing on us.

So here we are again, staring down the start of a new school year. Most of us are have a shiny new pile of fears about how our kids will handle the transition to new schools, new teachers, new aids, new therapists, new classmates. Heck, I wasn't sure how mine would handle needing a new backpack (pause to thank the Powers That Be for Angry Birds Star Wars)!

Each year we face the daunting task of communicating who they are and what they need to new instructors, plus updating familiar staff on how their needs have changed. But we accept the challenge because we want everyone in their lives to understand what wonderful people they are, and what they need to thrive.

For our part, my older son is moving from his Gen Ed placement with a 1:1 to an outplacement at a school with a dedicated curriculum for autistic students, which we are both happy and sad about, for all the predictable reasons. And we're in EI transition planning with my younger son, which means moving him into the district in which my older son has been crashing and burning. So no worries there, right?  He'll be getting his own version of this resume just in time for the dreaded 3rd birthday.

All of this is why I developed the special needs student resume. And why I decided to share it with all y'all. And since I get most folks would rather chew off their own arm than write a resume, why I also created a free template to make it faster and easier to make your own.

Go forth and advocate!

View and download a PDF of this 3 page sample special needs student resume (1st Grade)

View and download a PDF of a 2 page sample special needs student resume (Kindergarten)

Download a dotx Word template for creating a Special Needs Student Resume


I pinned this post to my Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder board.

"Introduce your Special Needs child to school staff with free student resume template by @ShesAlwaysWrite - http://bit.ly/1rdzCPd #Autism" Tweet this!