Thursday, September 30, 2010

Frugal Frannie's Revenge: Brown-Bag Microwave Popcorn

We've been Duped , people.
We've been tricked by Pop Secret and Jolly Time, and even... dare I say it... Orville Redenbacher.

They have tricked us into buying expensive, little baggies filled with popcorn kernels and imitation butter-flavor. I used to think this was the only way to make microwave popcorn.

But now I know different, and I just can't keep silent.

I feel like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, when he wakes up in that weird, womb-like pod, only to discover that everything he knew about life was a big hoax.

Well, I'm sorry to be the ones to tell you this, my darlings. But everything you knew about popcorn was a big haox.
Are you ready for the (Pop) secret? Here it is...
You don't need to buy microwave popcorn to make microwave popcorn!

All you need is a brown paper bag and popcorn kernels.
It's cheap. It's simple. It's healthy.

It's going to blow the lid off the entire microwave-popcorn industry.
Here's what you do:

Get your brown paper bag...
...and take a picture with it.
Next you will need some corn for popping. I used 1/3 a cup, which seemed to be the perfect amount for my brown bag.
Just pour the kernels in your brown bag...

Fold it over a few times.
Make a pretty sharp fold in the bag so it won't come undone.

Now place the bag o' corn in your microwaveMicrowave for about 2 minutes, 30 seconds. Make sure you listen carefully and stop the cooking when the popping slows down and is sporadic. And.... this is the end result! Don't you feel proud that you stuck it to the man and did it yourself?!Now, I will admit, the popcorn doesn't taste very delicious as-is. But the fun part is, this is where you can customize it to your heart's content. Now of course the way I like my popcorn is with melted butter and lots of salt! Mmmm! This is the way to do it for a special occasion!

But in order to make it a little more healthy for everyday snacking, I like to top it with canola oil spray (or olive oil spray if you have an olive oil spritzer!) and salt. You need a slight amount of fat on the popcorn or the salt won't stick. So I like to just spray the popcorn with canola oil while it's still in the bag, then add salt and shake it up. This is the best way to lightly coat it with fla-vah!

I hope all my fellow Frugal Frannies out there enjoy this delectable snack!

Monday, September 27, 2010

FALL-ing in Love With This Season: Favorite Fall Traditions

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times... I LOVE traditions!

I'm obsessed. It's a sickness, really.

I'm also obsessed with the fall. It is most-definitely, without a doubt my favorite season. So what happens when these two obsessions collide, you may ask?

Magic, my friends.

Pure, autumnal magic.

Here, in no particular order, are a few of our favorite fall traditions:

Decorating for Fall

This is actually on the agenda for today. We usually decorate in the last week of September. We put all our fall/harvesty stuff out along with a few Halloween things I have. Then after Halloween, I put away the Halloween stuff and bring out a few Thanksgiving things I have. But all my non-specific fall decor stays up from late September though December 1st!

Here are a few pics of last year's decorations.

Apple Picking

This will be our 3rd year taking the kids apple picking, and Bennett LOVES it! Before we go, I really like watching this Johnny Appleseed video. I love this fall-ish, educational tradition!

Making Fall Goodies!

A few of our favorites are pumpkin bread, homemade applesauce, caramel apples, pumpkin cookies, molasses cookies, hot apple cider, apple pie... and many more! There are lots of apple recipes here because we have a LOT of apples to use up after apple picking! The spicy, warm, delicious tastes of this season cannot be beat!

Some new recipes I'm looking forward to trying are:

*Monster Munch

*Candy Corn Cupcakes

* Chocolate Owls
*Pecan Pie Muffins

*Tuscan Style Potato Soup

*Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Bread

*Maple-Walnut Chicken
*Iced Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies

Charlie Brown Movies!

A fun family tradition is definitely watching Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin in October and A Charlie brown Thanksgiving and The Charlie Brown Mayflower Voyage in November. These remind me of growing up, and I love the nostalgic feeling I get watching them with my own kids. Also, the Mayflower video is very educational!!! I think these will be our Family Movie Night picks for October and November.

Pumpkin Patch

Visiting the Pumpkin Patch has become one of our favorite October activities. I especially love photographing the kids among the pumpkins. Look how tiny Mallie Gal was last year... sniff.

We also love the "How Tall This Fall" photo ops... such a great way of documenting the kids through the years. I'm thinking it would be really fun to put all these pictures together in a coffee-table book one day. Here's Bennett last year...


Of course no Halloween/Harvest season would be complete without pumpkin carving! We do ours on Halloween morning accompanied by some Pumpkin Pancakes! I loved seeing Bennett's face as he stuck his hands into the slimy goo inside the pumpkin. We like to read The Pumpkin Patch Parable before we carve our pumpkins. It brings a spiritual focus to this fun tradition.

Thankfulness Tree

This was a new tradition last November, and it really was an awesome way to cultivate grateful hearts during the Thanksgiving season. I drew a plain fall tree on butcher paper, and then every day we each wrote down things we were thankful for on leaf cutouts. Then we taped them to the paper. By the end of the month, our "tree" was full of thankfulness!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Crafty McCrafterton: Re-Purposed Necklace

Hello My fellow Crafty McCraftertons!

Just wanted to share a fun, re-purposed craft I took on last week (before my entire family became sick with an awful flu bug! Thank you, first week of preschool...)

It all started with this tutorial on fabric-rosette-making. I was so inspired, I decided to raid my supplies and figure out a way to make something right then and there!

I dug up this old necklace I haven't worn in a while.

First start by taking the necklace apart.
Now take a long piece of thread (I used embroidery thread), and tie it to a long thin strip of fabric. Tie a needle to the end of your thread.

Now begin by stringing a bead onto your thread. Then sew through that same side of the fabric strip. Once your string is on the other side, string another bead. Then just keep repeating this pattern.

It's kinda difficult to explain in words, but VERY easy to do. Here are a bunch of pictures, which will probably explain it better.

Please excuse my hideous cuticles. Remember I've been sick.

Once you've used all your beads up, just attach your fabric flower rosette (mine is made of the same fabric I used for the necklace) and...

You're all done!

This was my first attempt at fabric rosette making, and to be honest, I wasn't thrilled with the way this one came out. After more practice, I think I've gotten the hang of it. Here are some fabric-flower-making tips I've discovered through trial and error:

  1. Use the right glue. Fabric glue is the only way to go and worth the purchase if you want to make these right.

  2. Use thinner fabric. Thicker fabric, like the one I used, just ends up looking bulky.

  3. Keep it loose. In this flower, I was rolling the fabric too tight as I glued. When I finally figured out how to keep it looser, it started looking a lot prettier and more flower-like.

Back to the necklace. Despite my not-perfectly-perfect flower, I still really like the way it turned out. Very artsy and shabby-chic!

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Tale of Bennett Turning Four... or "How to Live in Denial That Your Child is Growing Up"

Bennett turned four last week... sniff.

I am amazed by how big and independent he is now. When did that happen?! I am amazed by his loving, sweet heart and the new ways he blesses my life every day. He is constantly telling me: "Mommy, I love you. Mommy, you are the best Mommy in the world." Also, lately he has been singing me this free-style song that he makes up as he goes. It usually goes something like this: "Mommy I love you... Mommy is so beautiful, Mommy is so cute. I love my Mommy."

I am amazed by how thoughtful, analytical and focused he is. He loves to read his Bible. After reading a story, he will usually ask me an amazingly mature, thought-provoking question, such as "Mommy, why did Judas do that wrong thing to Jesus? Why didn't he believe in Jesus?" or "Mommy, why is the mean snake evil? Why can't he be good?" Bennett is very, very concerned with good and evil, right and wrong. He is naturally gifted as a protector/defender. He is ALWAYS telling me that he is going to protect Mallory and I from scary things with his sword. This trait definitely comes from his Daddy!

I am also amazed at what an incredible imagination he has. All day long he is playing pretend with his dinosaurs, pirates, sword and shield, trains, cars... he is acting everything out and making up stories and songs about everything. He sees a movie, and he acts out all the scenes for weeks. He takes every toy we own apart in order to make them into something else... a dinosaur cave, a sword, a fort, a spaceship. He is constantly creating and playing.

Then... as if turning four wasn't enough to send me into a cry-fest, Bennett started preschool this week! This just makes him seem even older and bigger, seeing him skip off to his classroom, backpack on his back... with barely a "Bye, Mom!" Sheesh, it is like a dagger to my heart! And pre-school is just the beginning. Pretty soon he will be moving out and getting a condo and marrying 'some girl' he meets in his English 101 class.

Okay, I know, I know... I'm getting ahead of myself. But I can't help it. I love my boy. As happy as I am to see him growing up into such a wonderful, precious and independent little boy, it is very hard to let go of my baby.

Alright before I start having a separation-anxiety attack, let's look at some pictures of Benny's birthday, shall we?
Here's the birthday sign I made for Bennett. I also made one for Mallie Gal when it was her birthday. The plan is to hang it every year for the kids' birthdays!

It is super simple and in my opinion not as cute as those fancy-schmancy banners that I often see people making. But I don't have the talent necessary to make felt banners. So my kids will just have to settle for a Mod-Podged hunk 'o wood.
To make your very own sign, just get a rectangular piece of wood from Home Depot. Have your masculine hotty of a hubby drill holes in it for you. Then schalack it with ModPodge, cover with wrapping paper, ModPodge again, add cut out letters (Yes, Crystal... I have a Cricut!) :0) Then Mod Podge again.
Get it?
Got it?
Here's the fam in front of said sign.
Here's Benny's "Dinosaur Dig Cake." You can find the recipe here. It was so fun to make, and Bennett loved it!

Here I am being silly with my boy.
Here's Benny playing with his "Batman Castle." He played with it all. day. long.
Seriously, he played with it for 8 hours straight.

Birthday Donuts!

Mommy and Daddy got him the Full Armour of God, and it is awesome! I highly recommend this as a gift for a 4 year old boy! And it's going to double as his Halloween costume this year. Gotta love the gift that keeps on giving!

Love him SO much!

Bennett and his sister. So precious.
Bennett in his birthday shirt.

I made the shirt using a freezer paper stencil, the same way I made some artwork for my bedroom. Super fun!

And now the First Day o' School pics:
Seriously this is the best picture I have EVER gotten the two of them to take together! And they match!
Could you just die?

I know I could...

Bennett, I love you and I LOVE being your Mommy. Thank you, Lord for blessing me with this precious little boy.