Halloween Mini Pumpkin {Easter Egg} Hunt & Decorating Glitter Pumpkins

Halloween Mini Pumpkin Easter Egg Hunt

This Mini Pumpkin Hunt is just about one of the easiest Halloween projects you can do, and your kids are just about guaranteed to completely freak out over how awesome it is.

Well, at least those kids who love Easter egg hunts will freak out over the awesomeness.  But I don’t know any kids who don’t love Easter egg hunts.

The setup is simple:  buy a bunch of mini pumpkins, hide aforementioned mini pumpkins in your yard or house, hand your kids a bucket or basket in which to collect them, and stand back while they stampede.

Halloween Mini Pumpkin Easter Egg Hunt

Unfortunately for us, on the day I told my girls we were going to go outside and search for mini pumpkins, it rained.

A lot.

So, we relegated the search mostly to areas of flora that could be easily accessed with feet still firmly planted on the sidewalk and out of the wet grass and mud.

It didn’t even matter to them that it only took a couple of minutes to find all 10 that I’d hidden.  They were so excited about it that they hid them again so I could find them.  And again.  And again…

Halloween Mini Pumpkin Easter Egg Hunt

Eventually we made it inside to decorate our mini pumpkins.

I’d pulled out some glitter glue and some glitter in silver and gold.  Neutral but shiny.

Halloween Glitter Pumpkin Decorating

I spread a disposable table cloth over the floor and some newspaper in the middle of it, opened up the containers of glue and glitter, and stood back.

Well, not very far back.  They insisted I help, and, really, it’s pretty fun to bury your hands in glitter sometimes.  :)

Halloween Glitter Pumpkin Decorating

And the end result looked rather pretty.

Some had designs, some were completely covered, but they all looked so fun and sparkly.

Halloween Glitter Pumpkin Decorating

It was much easier to clean up, by the way, than it looks.

Once you move the pumpkins and glue/glitter containers, simply fold the paper in half to make it into a partial funnel, and let the glitter slide back into the container again to be reused for another project.

Halloween Glitter Pumpkin Decorating

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Fall French Toast

Fall French Toast

French toast is one of my favorite breakfast foods.

I’ve made it so many times that I usually don’t measure things, but I made sure to for this recipe.  :)  Either way, tho, feel free to adjust the measurements.

And this time, I changed things up by making it more autumn-themed.  Great for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or fall in general.

I cut up the bread with leaf and acorn cookie cutters and used plenty of vanilla extract and cinnamon in the egg mix.  Of course, you could substitute {or combine} it with almond extract, if you’d like.  {If you’re looking for something a little more fruity – check out my Tropical Almond French Toast!}

The shapes were fun for the kids {and me} but if you don’t want to go to the trouble of cutting out them out, you can still make this french toast with normal square slices of bread.

Fall French Toast

Stale bread always works best for french toast.  Fresh/soft bread tends to fall apart once you soak it in the egg mixture, and the stale bread is much easier to cut with the cookie cutters.

I didn’t have any stale bread, tho, so I laid out the bread pieces I was going to use on the counter the night before.  Let it sit uncovered and not overlapping for the best results.

I used regular sandwich bread.  A few slices of white and a few of wheat.  I happened to have them both, and I loved the combination of colors.

For each slice of bread, I got 3 medium or a combo of 3 medium and small leaves and acorns.  The extra bread can be used for croutons or breadcrumbs.

I used the Wilton Leaves and Acorns 9-Piece Aluminum Cookie Cutter Set, which you can see here:

Wilton Leaves and Acorns Cookie Cutter Set

Fall French Toast

Once you have your leaves and acorns cut out {you could also do this step the night before if it’s something you don’t think you can accomplish in the morning before your coffee kicks in}, then whisk together the other ingredients in a bowl.

Melt some butter on a griddle or in a large frying pan.  Dip the bread pieces in the egg mixture, turning to coat both sides and allowing to sit for a minute so the bread soaks everything up.

Fall French Toast

Look at all that yummy cinnamon!

I stopped using my hands to lift the bread from the egg mix and transfer it to the griddle years ago.  Too much breakage.  And messiness.  I use a fork for large slices of bread, but I used two for some of the more delicate leaves here.  Didn’t want them falling apart.

Fall French Toast

Cook them for a few minutes on each side, until browned.

I suggest dipping a few pieces at a time and transferring them all to the griddle at once, so you have a couple of batches cooking at once.

Fall French Toast

When they’re finished, you can either transfer them directly to the serving platter, or put them in a oven safe dish in an oven that’s been preheated to a low temperature to keep them warm.

I served these with just maple syrup {see photo below}, but you could also sprinkle on some powdered sugar or some Cinnamon Sugar.

Fall French Toast

Fall French Toasts {with leaves & acorns}

Ingredients:

10 slices stale bread
1 cup whole milk
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla or almond extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

The bread is easier to work with if it’s stale, so if you only have fresh bread, leave it out on the counter the night before.

Cut leaf and acorn shapes from the bread slices. Use a combination of white and wheat for more color variation. Reserve remaining bread pieces for breadcrumbs or croutons.

Preheat a griddle to medium heat (about 350°F).

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon.

Melt some butter on the surface of the hot griddle. Dip the bread pieces in the milk mixture, turning to coat both sides, and lifting with one or two forks so that the shapes don’t break apart. Place the bread on the griddle.

Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Serve immediately, or keep warm in a low temperature oven.

Serve with maple syrup, and optionally with powdered sugar or a cinnamon sugar mix.

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And click here to print the free PDF version of the recipe:  Fall French Toast

Enjoy!

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Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

These Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds {made with coconut oil and cinnamon} are pretty addicting.

I’ve been eating a handful every time I walk through the kitchen.

And cooking them?  Oh, my.  The coconut oil… the maple syrup… the cinnamon….  The kitchen smelled AMAZING.

If you prefer something more savory, be sure to check out my Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

But – either way – you need to try these.  I’m seriously considering buying a trunkful of pumpkins to carve just so I can roast some more seeds.

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Anyway, the process starts off with cleaning the seeds.  Getting rid of all the pumpkiny pulp.

I do this by putting some water in the bowl with the pulp and seeds and squeezing out the seeds through my fingers, but if there’s a different method you prefer, please share it in the comments!

Now you’ll either dry your seeds and roast them right away or let them soak overnight.

Soaking them has something to do with removing the phytic acid to allow you to absorb more of the gazillion nutrients in the pumpkin seeds.  But mostly, I don’t feel like roasting them as soon as I’ve finished carving and am busy trying to scrub orange goo off my hands and clothes.

So I let them soak overnight.

I MAY have let them soak for 48 hours… possibly.  I mean, it’s not like I let myself get distracted by my toddler and preschooler or anything… but – just so you know:  if you soak them for a couple of nights {whether for convenience or because you accidentally passed out at 8p.m. next to your kid’s bed and woke up in a puddle of drool waaaaaay too late to be bothered by checking on your pumpkin seeds}, you should be fine.

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

After cleaning and/or soaking the seeds, dry them off on a cloth towel.

Then measure them out to make sure you have approximately a cup and a half.  But if you’re a little off, don’t worry about it.  Just add a little more or less of the other ingredients.

And for reference, I got my seeds out of this guy right here:

Our Jack O' Lantern

I’m a sucker for the traditional look.  :)

Back to the seeds:  mix all of the ingredients really well in a bowl.  You want to make sure all of the seeds are coated.

If your coconut oil is solid, melt it on the stove and allow it to cool slightly before using.  My extra virgin coconut oil is stored in my pantry and I live in Florida.  It never completely solidifies.  And I use to extra virgin for this because I like the smell and taste of it, but any coconut oil will work.

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Then spread them out on a large baking sheet, getting as flat a layer as possible.

Stir them every 10 to 15 minutes while baking, always making sure that you spread them out as much as possible each time.  It can make it easier to do this if you use two spatulas/spoon instead of one.

After baking, let them cool on the pan, then put them in a bowl to serve or a covered container to store.

I can’t stop eating the darned things, so I can’t say for certain how long they’ll last.  :)

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

After removing the seeds from your pumpkin, separate the pulp from the seeds.

Once the seeds are cleaned, cover them with water and let them sit overnight. (This step is optional.)

Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C). Drain the water from the pumpkin seeds (if you soaked them overnight) and dry them on a cloth towel.

In a bowl, mix the seeds with the coconut oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon. If your coconut oil is not in a liquid or mostly-liquid state, melt it on the stove and allow it to cool slightly before using. Mix well so the seeds are evenly covered.

Spread the pumpkin seeds on a large baking sheet with as few touching as possible. Bake for one hour, stirring every 10 or 15 minutes.

Let cool and store covered.

[Note: the ingredient measurements can be adjusted up or down depending on how many seeds your pumpkin contains.]

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Click here to print the free PDF version of the recipe:  Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

And here are some of the ingredients I used:

Coconut Oil Organic Maple Syrup

Enjoy!

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Red & White Chevron Monogrammed Christmas Decorations

Red and White Chevron Monogrammed Christmas Decor

I’ve got holidays on the mind.  We’ve been doing tons of Halloween and Thanksgiving projects, but I’m always thinking ahead to Christmas… even tho it’s not quite Halloween yet.

It’s my favorite time of year.  :)

And with Christmas on my mind, some of the newest products I’ve made for my Joyful Expressions store include these red and white chevron monogrammed Christmas decorations.

The Red & White Chevron Monogram Tree Skirt is 44 inches in diameter and available in brushed polyester, faux linen, or coral fleece.

The Red & White Chevron Monogram Christmas Stocking are available in the same fabrics as the skirt, with your choice of sizes:  9 x 16 inches or 12 x 20 inches.

The Red & White Chevron Monogrammed Pillow come in polyester or cotton, and the sizes range from 16 inch or 20 inch square to a 13 x 21 inch lumbar pillow.

The Red & White Chevron Monogram Dated Photo Ornament has a monogram and personalization on the front, that includes the year, and a photo on the back.

The Red & White Chevron Monogram Ornament is about 2 x 2.5 inches and can be plated in either silver or gold.

Plus, they’re also available in silver:

Silver and White Chevron Monogrammed Christmas Decor

 

The links for the silver and white decorations are

Silver & White Chevron Monogram Tree Skirt

Silver & White Chevron Monogram Christmas Stocking

Silver & White Chevron Monogrammed Pillow

Silver & White Chevron Monogram Dated Photo Ornament

Silver & White Chevron Monogram Ornament

What colors are you decorating with this year?  Do you stick with the traditional reds and greens, or do you have a different favorite?

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Octopus Dinner Rolls

Octopus Dinner Rolls

I saw these Octopus Dinner Rolls in a magazine (can’t remember which one) and thought they’d be fun to tackle with my girls.

They do take a few minutes to shape, but they’re pretty easy to make – and especially fun to eat!

Octopus Dinner Rolls

I used crescent rolls that had a butter flavor in them already, but if yours don’t (or you’re making your own dough), you can always wrap up a small chunk of butter inside the “head.”

The process of turning these triangles into an octopus is surprisingly easy:  cut the end opposite the point into 8 pieces.  Then tuck the pointed end under and bunch it up into a ball.  Voila!

Octopus Dinner Rolls

I asked the girls to help me arrange the myriad legs, but they were really much more interested in adding the eyes.

My 4yo even used the tweezers from her bug collecting kit to place them on.  (Don’t worry – we washed them first!)

Octopus Dinner Rolls

Here they are, all ready to bake.

You should make sure the legs aren’t touching, but the dough doesn’t spread much during baking, so they can be pretty close.

Octopus Dinner Rolls

Also, I baked one tray the full recommended baking time on the package (see above photo) and the other tray a few minutes less (see below).

Undercooking them slightly ensures that the tips don’t brown, but the head will be a bit underdone.  Now, that didn’t bother me or my girls at all – but then, neither did the crunchy legs of the fully cooked ones.

The crispy tips didn’t present a problem for us in the least, so really, how long you decide to bake them is up to your personal preference.

Octopus Dinner Rolls

And if you want to shape them ahead of time, you can put the octopus-filled, parchment-lined trays in the fridge until you’re ready to bake them.  Such as on Halloween.  :)

Click here to get the free printable PDF version of the recipe:  Octopus Dinner Rolls

Plus, if your kids enjoyed this, they may also like my Octopus Hot Dogs:

octopus-hot-dogs-with-seaweed-zucchiniEnjoy!

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Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Candy Corn and Mini Marshmallow Pumpkins

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pumpkins and Candy Corn

I am in love with these itty bitty mini Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pumpkins!

As you can see below, I also made some Chocolate Covered Candy Corn Marshmallows, but the little pumpkins were my favorite.  :)

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pumpkins and Candy Corn

Here are all the supplies.  The chocolate chips were used for my Mummy Marshmallows, but everything else was used for the Pumpkins and Candy Corn.

For the mini Pumpkins, I used the store brand mini marshmallows, because they were slightly larger than the name brand ones.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pumpkins and Candy Corn

For the Candy Corn Marshmallows, I dipped the large, white marshmallows into yellow candy melts, rolling them slightly to make sure that the candy went about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the marshmallow.

It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done.

But, tips are as follows:  make sure that the candy melts are melted but not too hot.  Let them sit for a couple of minutes after melting so that they cool down enough to not melt the marshmallow.  I suggest dipping them in while holding them with your fingers, but also using a fork to help you lift them out of the candy.  Knock the fork against the side of the glass/bowl to get rid of excess candy.

Place the marshmallows on parchment paper to dry.  After the yellow candy has hardened, dip them about 1/3 of the way into orange candy melts.

If any excess candy seems to be pooling at the bottom of the marshmallow, trace around it with a toothpick.  This will make it easier to break off the excess candy once it dries.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pumpkins and Candy Corn

The mini pumpkins were SO much easier.

Dip the mini marshmallows into melted (but not too hot) orange candy melts.  Use a fork to take them out of the candy and tap the fork against the side of the bowl to get off the excess.  Place on parchment paper, using another fork to push them onto the paper, and trace around them with a toothpick if too much excess candy is pooling at the bottom of them.

Also, right after dipping the mini marshmallows in the candy melts – or right after doing a few of them – stick a green star or flower shaped sprinkle into the top to represent the stem.

You could use a leaf shaped sprinkle to represent the stem, but the Daisy Flower Sprinkles are easy to find year round.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pumpkins and Candy Corn

Here are the finished Candy Corn Marshmallows.

They were a big hit, even though they didn’t look perfect.

I also gave some away that I put in a dish with the mini pumpkin marshmallows and a handful of actual candy corn.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pumpkins and Candy Corn

I loved these little mini chocolate covered marshmallows so much, mostly because they were little bursts of fun.

The smooth but hardened chocolate surrounds tiny clouds of fluff, and that one sprinkle adds a giant dimension of texture.

They’re kind of addicting.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pumpkins and Candy Corn

I didn’t type up a recipe for these.  To sum it up, though:

For the Candy Corn Marshmallows:  Dip marshmallow 2/3 into melted yellow candy melts.  Let harden.  Dip 1/3 into orange candy melts.  Let harden.  Store covered.

For the mini Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pumpkins:  Dip mini marshmallows into orange candy melts, covering completely.  Immediately top with a large green sprinkle in the shape of a flower, star, or leaf.  Let harden.  Store covered.

These are the candy melts and spinkles I used:

yellow candy melts orange candy meltswilton daisy flower sprinkles

Enjoy!

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Free Autumn Clifford Printable Maze

Free Autumn Clifford Printable Maze

We have a lot of Biscuit books.

And a lot of Clifford books.

So when I found this Free Printable Clifford Maze, I instantly thought of Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch.  It seemed like a wonderful match.

My kids both love the Biscuit book, and we tend to read it more often in the fall.

It’s a short – and very simple – story, but entertaining.  I read it slowly and always take the time to ask who is hiding when we get to the page where there are bunny ears sticking out from behind one of the pumpkins.

And because my girls also love Clifford, they were excited when I printed out the maze for them.  So I wanted to share it.

Enjoy!  :)

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