Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

I hope you are all enjoying Christmas this year.  We are having a wonderful day.  I wanted to let you all know that we will be out of town from tomorrow until January 4th, but once we get back I am going to hit the ground running.  I have some great things planned for next year and I can't wait to get started!

In the mean time, go check out the giveaway that Jenn at Livin' the Simple Life is hosting.  It is a Pumpkin Patch giveaway, and it is pretty awesome.  Seriously, go check it out.  You better hurry ends at midnight on December 29th (which just happens to be my 9th anniversary...yeah us!).  While you are at it, check out her blog too.  I am so impressed with her decorating abilities and she does it all with thrift store, craigslist, and dollar store finds.  Amazing!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Really great advice

The other day we were at the store with all 4 kids.  It wasn't just any store, it was Costco and it was way too close to Christmas.  To say that there were a lot of people there would be an understatement.  It was jam packed!!  It wouldn't have been a big deal, or even worth mentioning except for the fact that 75% of my children were crying/whining/begging for something/complaining because they weren't getting it.  I love it when they are like that.  I wish I could said that I took it as an opportunity to recognize them as a blessing, but I'd be lying.

I was trying very hard to have a conversation with my husband about whether or not to buy a GPS (no we still don't have one), but I couldn't even hear him becuase my little beauties were being so awesome.  Do I even need to mention all of the comments from bystanders about how horrid my kids were and what great parents we weren't?  Of course not.  We'll just leave that part out.

Then this old couple walked by.  The grandma (she must have been a grandma because she wasn't shooting me dirty looks) said, "Aren't you lucky to have so many kids?"  I shot her the "Are you serious?" look and she winked at me and said, "Of course you are!  You have music wherever you go!"  That was all it took!  I immediately started laughing which made my kids stop crying/whining/begging/complaining and laugh too.  They had no idea what they were laughing at, but it didn't matter.  We were in the middle of Costco laughing about how blessed we are to be a family and my heart was full to overflowing.  All I can say is bless her.  Bless her for being kind and genuine to a perfect stranger in need.  I hope I can be more like her when I grow up.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Welcome to The Pumpkin Patch!!

If you found your way here from Livin' the Simple Life, welcome!  I'm happy you're here and hope you have fun digging around the patch.  If you came from somewhere else, you are still welcome!  :)   When you get done here, go over and see Jenn at Livin' the Simple Life.  She has a great site that is full of amazing DIY projects.  I promise you won't be disappointed...especially because she is hosting the best giveaway in the universe right now.  :)

I'm so excited to have some new people visiting The Pumpkin Patch and I hope you enjoy your stay.  Come back again soon!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My house smells like heaven right now...

We had pumpkin pancakes for breakfast this morning.  I posted the recipe here.  I haven't made them in a while, and boy have we missed out!!!  The house smells soooooo good I could just pour some syrup on it and eat the whole thing!  :)  If you haven't tried these you need to.  Seriously.  Try them.  DELICIOUS!

If only I could make this scratch and sniff.  :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jingle Bell Bracelets and Rudolph Noses

We had our preschool Christmas program today. It was super fun and the little kids were ADORABLE! We made a couple of quick crafts last week to help with our presentation and they were very excited about them. I thought I'd share

Jingle Bell Bracelets
-yarn or string
-jingle bells (I bought silver and gold ones from Wal-Mart and they were less than a dollar a bag)

1. Wrap a small piece of tape around the end of the yarn or string (tightly) to make feeding it through the hole in the bell easier. This can be a bit of a pain, but it makes the second step MUCH easier.

2. Feed the end of the yarn through the hole in the bell. I went back and forth between silver and gold on ours.  Also, check the bell holes first.  Some of them are very small and yarn won't fit.  Some of them are big enough for yarn, so I just went through and picked out the bells that I knew would work.

3. Once you have a bell on, give yourself plenty of extra yarn, and then tie a knot around the bell.

4. String on another bell and tie another knot. You can make them as close together or as far apart as you want.

5. Once you are done, cut the tape off of the end of your yarn and tie it around your child's wrist. Make sure you use a bow, so it can come back off without being cut.

You could also use fishing line or elastic string and tie them super close together for a fun bracelet for a grown-up, or you could use some festive ribbon and a bigger bell and make a necklace. For as inexpensive and easy as this is, you can have fun trying lots of different alternatives. If you come up with something cute, send me a picture and I will post it.

Rudolph Noses
-red yarn
-something to wrap yarn around (I used a credit card...perfect size)

1. Begin wrapping the yarn around the card. Start by holding the yarn in place with your finger. Then start wrapping.

2. Wrap the yarn around the card 50 times. To do this, count every time you cross over the top of the card.

3. Once you are done wrapping, cut the yarn at the bottom of the card. Then grab the yarn ball in your hand and slowly slip it off the card while holding it securely in your hand.

4. While holding the yarn ball in your hand, lay out a piece of yarn several inches long. Lay the yarn ball on top of it so that the piece of yarn lies under the middle of the yarn ball.

5. Take up both sides of the piece of yarn around the yarn ball and tie them tightly around the ball of yarn. Tie it a couple of times to make sure it is secure.

6. Once it is secure, cut the loops of yarn.

7. After all of the loops are cut, you have a misshapen puff ball. While holding it with one hand, carefully trim the pieces of yarn so that they are all pretty even with each other. Now you have a little round puff ball.

8. Take a piece of yarn about 2 feet long and lay it down. Put your fluff ball on top of it so that it is centered. Tie the yarn around it securely. Fluff the ball with your fingers, and you are done.

We used these for Rudolph noses, but you can use them for clown noses, or to add a pompom to your child's snow hat. You can add wiggly eyes and some feet and turn them into warm fuzzies. Later in the year, we are going to make lots of different colors and put them into a "guess how many" jar. If you come up with something cute or creative, send me a picture and I will post it.

Thanks everyone! Have a happy day.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Shop Reorganization

I just reorgainzed my store.  I lowered all of the prices and organized it better.  Now I  hope it is easier to nagivate and easier to find what you are looking for.  There is still time to order before Christmas, so take a peak and let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stinky Sponges

Ever used a sponge that stinks and then the smell stays on your hands even after you wash them?  Let me tell you, it is GROSS!!  Know what causes them to stink?  BACTERIA!  So, if you are washing dishes or countertops with a stinky sponge, you are just smearing around bacteria.  Isn't that a lovely thought?

Other than using a new sponge everyday, do you think there are other things you can do?  Well, there are a few different things that kill the bacteria and get rid of the smell.  Here are my favorites.

1.  Boil your sponge.  Put it in a pan and cover it with water.  The sponge will probably float, but that doesn't matter.  Bring it to a boil and let it boil on each side for 4-5minutes.  Then take it off the heat and pour it out into the sink.  Run cold water over it until you can touch it.  Ring it out and let it dry.  No more stink and no more bacteria.  You need to do this regularly and your sponge will last for a long time.

2.  Run it through the dishwasher.  Put it on the top rack and run it through the dishwasher.  Once the dishwasher is done, take the sponge out and run it under cold water while squeezing it.  Once it is cooled off, ring it out and set it out to dry.  No more stink and no more bacteria.  I have 2 sponges that I rotate and it works great.  I run the dishwasher every night, so I just make sure to put it in before I turn it on.

3.  Use anti-bacterial dish soap.  This one won't keep it from stinking completely, but it does help on keeping the bacteria and smell down.  You still need to boil or run it through the dishwasher, but with this soap you need to do it everyday.

This is a picture of a dirty sponge under a microscope.

"Kitchen sponge microbes. Kitchen sponges can accumulate food and microbes when used for long periods of time and are not thoroughly cleaned. The moisture and food particles in a dirty sponge make it a perfect environment for microorganisms to grow (such as, bacteria and fungi). Their waste products give the sponge a distinctive smell. Features shown in this photomicrograph are: sponge surface (blue); bacteria (rod-shaped - purple and green colors); filamentous fungi (thin and thick filaments - purple and red colors); yeast fungi (round spheres - yellow-green color)."

Really Good Breadsticks (and pizza dough)

I got this recipe from a friend in Virginia several years ago.  Her name is Jill and I pretty much want to be her when I grow up.  :)  These breadsticks are fantastic.  They are super easy and are very versatile.  We also use this recipe for pizza dough every Friday night.  I use my Kitchen Aid mixer which makes these super simple.  If you don't have a mixer, they are still easy.  I'll put the non-mixer directions at the bottom.  Also, you can use 1/2 wheat flour and 1/2 white flour and they still taste pretty good, but I wouldn't use all wheat flour.  I've tried and they are not good...if you are making breadsticks, you aren't really going for healthy anyway, so you might as well enjoy them.  :)

Breadsticks (or pizza dough)

1 1/2 cups really warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 cups white flour
garlic salt
parmesan cheese
mozzerella cheese
melted butter

1.  Preheat oven to 375 F.

2.  Mix the yeast and sugar together in the bottom of your mixer bowl.  Add water and stir to dissolve sugar and yeast.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes, until mixture starts to become frothy. 

3.  Add flour and salt all at once.  Using the dough hook on speed 2, mix for 3 1/2 minutes.  (The time and speed may be different for a Bosch mixer.  I have never used one, so I don't know how they work.)  Let dough rest in bowl for 10 minutes.

4.  Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  Remove dough from mixer (underside of dough will be very sticky, so put it directly on the cookie sheet.  Then you don't have to mess with the stickiness) and place on prepared cookie sheet.  Using a rolling pin or your hands, roll the dough out so that it covers the cookie sheet completely.

5.  Spread a thin layer of melted butter on top of dough.  Sprinkle with garlic salt, parmesan cheese, and mozzerella cheese.

6.  Using a pizza roller, cut the dough into whatever size sticks you like.  When they are done baking, you can just roll over it again with your pizza cutter and they come right out.

7.  No need to let them rise.  Bake at 375F for 18-20 minutes.  Just until the cheese on top starts to lightly brown.

Pizza:  If you are using this dough for pizza, follow directions through step 4.  Then spread with pizza sauce and whatever toppings you want.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cheese starts to lightly brown.  This makes a thick dough--sort of like deep dish.  We LOVE it.

By hand:  If you are making this dough by hand, follow steps 1 and 2, then add the flour and salt all at once.  Stir in as much as you can.  Once you can't stir anymore, dump it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it, adding more flour as necessary, to get a soft, smooth, elastic dough.  It should probably take about 5 minutes.  You know it is done when it springs back a bit if you poke it with 2 fingers.  Then follow directions above.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Menu--Month at a glance

I have received LOTS of questions about my menu planning.  I talked about it here, but then I tweaked it a little.  Then I tweaked it a little more.  Then I got more detailed.  Now I finally have 4 weeks of meals planned out.  I can't tell you how nice it is!!  I love being able to know what I am going to fix that day.

Before I detailed it out, I sat down and looked to see if there was anything that I could streamline.  We eat a lot of salads, and there are about 6 different ones that we really like, so I decided to assign each salad to a day of the week.  We also eat homemade pizza every Friday night, so that one was really easy.  Saturdays are crazy busy, so why not do leftovers...then I don't have to worry about preparing anything that night.  Then I made a list of all of the things we eat and tried to break them into categories, for example, rice, soup, pasta, etc.  Once I had the categories figured out, I assigned a category to each day.  We also only have dessert 2 nights a week.  On Monday night as part of family night, and on Friday night just because. Of course it didn't lay out perfectly, but once I did this, it was pretty easy to detail out a 4 week menu.  So, here you go.

Breakfast:  Apple cinnamon oatmeal, fruit
Salad:  Mandarin orange salad
Dinner:  1.  Black beans and rice, corn
             2.  Roasted veggies and rice
             3.  Chicken and rice, broccoli
             4.  Stir fry and rice
Treat--whatever the kids want to make--they help me make it

Breakfast:  Spinach smoothies, fruit (don't knock them until you try them!  :)
Salad:  Cranberry and walnut salad
Dinner:  1.  Veggie soup, breadsticks
             2.  Taco soup, corn bread
             3.  Potato soup, breadsticks
             4.  Chicken and wild rice soup, breadsticks

Breakfast:  fruit and pancakes
Salad:  Strawberry spinach salad
Dinner:  1.  Spaghetti, corn, mashed potatoes
             2.  Minestrone with noodles, breadsticks
             3.  Spinach lasagna, green beans
             4.  Pasta salad and veggies

Thursday--Salad (or other)
Breakfast:  Spinach smoothies, fruit
Salad:  Caesar Salad (when needed)
Dinner:  1.  Baked potato and/or salad bar, broccoli
             2.  Chicken Caesar salad
             3.  Cabbage soup, whole wheat bread (kids usually eat sandwiches on this night)
             4.  Taco salad, sliced apples

Breakfast:  Apple cinnamon oatmeal, fruit
Salad:  Garden Salad
Dinner:  Homemade pizza--usually pepperoni
Treat--whatever the kids want--they help me make it

Breakfast:  fruit and muffins
Salad:  whatever we want
Dinner:  whatever leftover we want

Breakfast:  cold cereal (so we aren't late to church)
Dinner:  1.  Potatoes, sausage, and green beans
             2.  Zucchini and Swiss chard, blueberries (kids usually eat sandwiches)
             3.  Burritos/enchiladas, Normandy blend
             4.  Veggie and chicken pot pie, broccoli

We do have a few rules.  The kids have to try everything on their plates.  If they won't try it, then they don't get anything else and they can go to bed with no dinner.  If they try it and say they don't like it, but I know it is something they have eaten fine in the past, they can choose to eat or choose to go to bed with no dinner.  If it so something I know they don't like because they have never liked it, they still have to try it, but once they do, I will make them a sandwich instead.  RARELY do they choose to go to bed hungry, but it does happen sometimes.  They also don't get dessert unless they eat their dinner.

If you see something on this menu that you want a recipe for, send me an email at


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Have you missed me?????

I hope so!  :)  My computer started making weird noises a couple of weeks ago and my hubby said not to use it.  NICE!  So, I am finally on his spare laptop until my NEW COMPUTER comes in a couple of weeks.  The old one will still turn on, but I'm afraid if I keep making it work it will die completely before we can get everything off of it.  Luckily all of our photos are stored on an external hard drive, but all of my preschool and Pumpkin Patch information is on the old one.  I am keeping my fingers double crossed that I don't loose any information.  I am also giddy at the thought of getting a new one!!!  YEAH for me!

Anyway, I have a ton of great stuff to post and lots of questions to answer so brace yourself for a Pumpkin Patch posting marathon.  (say that 5 times fast)

Monday, November 16, 2009

How to make a piñata without using Paper Mache

My son really wanted a piñata at his birthday party, but I couldn't find any that weren't pink or Dora...and they were at least $15 a piece.  I thought maybe I could make one for cheaper, and so I set out on a quest to figure out how to make a piñata.  Everything I read said that you have to use Paper Mache which I have done before, but I don't love it.  It takes a long time and is messy.  I was stumped.

Then the weirdest thing happened.  I went to be thinking about how to make a piñata and I woke up knowing how to do it.  My brain must have worked on it all night, because I went downstairs and did it without giving it a second thought.  It worked so well that I thought I would give you all a piñata making tutorial.

1.  You will need a cereal box (or some other type of cardboard box, but it can't be too industrial or the kids won't be able to break it), a roll of streamers in the color you want, masking tape, scissors, and twine.  I thought I would use the hole punch reinforcers, but I just used the tape instead.
2.  Cover the bottom of the box with a strip of streamer.
3.  Cut slits into the streamer going half way up.  Make the slits about 1/2 an inch apart.  You don't have to measure it, just eyeball it.  You also don't need to make them perfectly spaced.  This creates the fringed look.
4.  Begin wrapping the streamer around the box.  I taped it down on each side each time I went around.  You want the streamer securely attached to the box.  Wrap it so that it overlaps.  Keep the wraps close together and it will look fuller when you get done.
5. Just keep wrapping until you only about 1.5 to 2 inches at the top of the box.
6.  On both sides of the box, you will need to put 2-3 layers of tape on both the outside and inside of the box.  After you have the tape in place, take your scissors and punch a hole through the box.  The tape makes the holes stronger.  Then run your twine through.  You can use twine, yarn, rope, or whatever you want.  Just make sure it is strong enough to hold the piñata while people are hitting it.
7.  To finish off the box, keep wrapping around until you get to the top.  Just work around the twine sticking out the sides.  At the top, you will want to make some tape balls like the ones pictured here.  It will take 2 strips of streamer to cover each top flap.
8.  I found it easier to cut the slits after I had the streamer taped to the box.
9.  Cut a space out of the streamer where the box lid closes so that you can close it when you are done.
10.  Cover the other flap the same way, and leave the little tab uncovered.  You won't see it when you close the box.
11.  You can tape the box shut if you want to.  I did not and it wasn't a problem.  Of course it was a bunch of 5 year olds whacking it, not adults.
12.  To finish it off, I used a Spiderman napkin.  I could have just taped the napkin on like this and my son would have been happy with it, but I decided to take it a step further and cut Spiderman out of the napkin and put him directly to the box.
13.  The last step is to "fluff" your fringe and then you are done.  Enjoy!!

How much did this cost?  The box, tape, and twine I already had.  I bought the streamer and napkins at Wal Mart.  The streamer was $.97 and the napkins were under $3.00 for a pack of 16.  Now that is a cheap piñata!

I'm also linking this to Metamorphasis Monday over at Between Naps on the Porch.  Just click on the link and it will take you back so you can see what everyone else is up to.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Happy Birthday to J!!

J turned 5 last week.  J is a thoughtful, tender hearted boy.  He has been through so many physical/health issues in his short life, but through it all he has kept a smile on his face.  I have learned so much about patience and enduring your trials well from him.  I have also seen him show unconditional love to everyone around him.  He is a really great boy and we are so blessed to have him as part of our family.

We have a tradition in our home that we ALWAYS have cake in some form on our actual birthdays.  We also decided to celebrate the big birthdays with friend parties and the not so big birthdays with family parties.  The "big" birthdays are 5, 8, 12, 16, and if they are with us 21.

We sent spider web cupcakes to school and had a little family party that night.  Then on Friday, Dad took a 1/2 day so we could do his big party with all of his friends at the fire station.  (Dad is a volunteer fire fighter).  It was so much fun!!!  We had a tour of the fire station, all of the kids got to try on the fire fighter clothes, we played a game, ate junk, whacked a piñata (which I made), and ate cake and ice cream.  Here are some pictures.