Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Free Halloween Cupcake Toppers and Party Printables

I'm really excited we were able to round up some friends to come over for Halloween this year! Every year after Trick-or-Treating is done, I'm always ready to hang out with friends and party, but most people usually have other things going on. Not this year! My two year old has a couple of her friends coming over and I cannot wait to see them dressed up and Trick-or-Treating.  
I'm keeping the food simple and making the family tradition of a crock pot full of Chili with all the fixin's, some Corn Chowder with Chilies, pumpkin bread (from the Trader Joe's mix..soo good) with homemade Sugar Free Slow cooker Apple Butter (so easy and SO good), maybe some homemade jalapeno bacon popcorn (my current pregnancy obsession!).
And, of course, cupcakes...mostly because I want to put out a display of cupcake with these adorable toppers:
I've been looking for a recipe for healthy cupcakes, so this is a perfect chance to try these Chocolate Cupcakes (Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Refined Sugar-free) with Yam Frosting (Update:  . If I get super ambitious I'd like to try these Grain-Free Pumpkin Cupcakes from Nourishing Meals. I will let you know how they turn out!

(Update: The Chocolate Cupcakes turned out really good chilled in the fridge (weren't that great straight out of the oven still warm). I don't know if they are my perfect healthy cupcake yet..but I'm so happy to be able to give them to my 2 year old as a super snack. I used raw cacao powder (sooo good!) instead of the cocoa powder, which is full of antioxidants, fiber, iron, and protein (Healthy chocolate! Too good to be true!). The coconut flour is a great source of protein, and the coconut oil is a healthy fat source. I get all my weird ingredients like that (and a ton of other things) at Vitacost.)

And, even more exciting, you can find the links to 65 other free Halloween printables HERE.
Here are some of my favorites:



Happy Halloween everybody!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Preparation Tips

Greetings from Hurricane Sandy Central. And I mean that literally. Every projected path but one has it headed directly at us!

Hanging out on the pile of outdoor cushions brought in from outside during storm prep!

I thought last night was supposed to be bad, but now it looks like today and tonight will be the worst. Last night and this morning it's just been raining from pretty heavy to light or not at all. Right now it doesn't even seem like a bad thunderstorm, except for the occassional wind gust that makes you go "Oohh..that's got a little power behind it. Clearly this storm means business." There is a tiny bit of flooding in the streets right now, but that pretty much happens with any heavy rain storm around here.

We learned some great lessons about how to prepare for a big storm hit and power outages from the massive storm this Summer. It seems like a lot of the prep tips out there are for major emergency, worst case scenarios. I thought I'd share some basic tips for being comfortable at home in case of a power outage and being prepared for a major storm like this:

-Get cash! This wouldn't have occurred to me if we hadn't dealt with it after the storm this past Summer. If stores don't have power or internet for taking credit cards, most were still open and taking cash.

-Get Gas! After the major outages this Summer, all of the gas stations in the area ran out of gas very quickly. I realized that if we had to evacuate, we may not have had enough gas to get us out of the area! Really scary thought.

-This might just be a sketchy Jersey thing (sorry Jersey!), but during the last storm people were freaking out and actually stealing gas out of neighbors cars sitting in their driveway! Can you believe that!?! So we cleared out my spot in the garage that was accumulating strollers and junk to lock my car up inside.

-I also realized with the last storm that I wouldn't have known how to open the garage door to get my car out if the power was out. I probably could have figured it out, but I feel better after my husband showed me exactly how to open the garage door and then lock it manually.

-Get all the basics you would need together in one spot. I have all the flashlights, batteries, candles, and other misc. emergency items together on the dining room table. No fun hunting around for all those things in the dark when you really need them.

-We already had flashlights, but I went out and got some additional lantern type lights to set up stationary in the rooms. This was something I wish I had with the last outage, when I realized that flashlights are really just most useful for walking around. Obviously candles would work well too, but the thought of have a bunch of them going with my two year old running around made me nervous. Still have some set aside though and at least one in each room to light if needed.

-I didn't do any major stocking up, seeing that we could probably last off all the food in the pantry for months! But do take stock of things you wouldn't want to be without for long term. I noticed we were almost out of dog food, so made a special trip for that. I also made sure we had enough disposable diapers and wipes, since we usually use cloth diapers.

-Speaking of cloth diapers...this probably doesn't apply to anyone but me...but the last major power outage struck unexpectedly with no time to prepare, so one of my biggest concerns was not being able to wash the load of dirty cloth diapers in the washing machine! Luckily we were only without power for a day. But this time around I made sure to wash all her diapers a few days ago and switch to disposables until the storm passes.

-My husband just called with a good tip. Turn down your freezer and refridgerator as low as they go before outages. For the last outage, the first thing we did was go out for bags of ice to stick in the fridge and freezer.

-Think about anything you'd really like to do that you couldn't do without electricity. I vacuumed the whole house the other day and have been keeping on top of any laundry and running the dishwasher.

-Have disposable plates, cups, napkins, and utensils ready to go.

-We have the basement all set up to go with a bed for us, Elizabeth's pack-n-play, and bedding. We didn't sleep there last night, but it was nice to know it was all ready to go in case we needed to move down there. I also stocked it up with some water, food, diapers, and flashlights, just in case we were to get stuck down there, God forbid.

-This is something that I wasn't expecting with the last outage...completely losing internet and cell phone service! The iphones were especially bad. Our basic Verizon phones worked a little. I just assumed the internet and phones would still work, even if the electricity went out. Just be prepared for that. Have an atlas in your car or print out some maps (remember those?? :) of the area and possible evacuation routes. I also wrote down important numbers and put them in my wallet, since I don't really have any memorized anymore. Make sure cell phones are still fully charged though.

-Have an emergency plan. I already have my car packed up with things we would need in case of an evacuation or wouldn't want to lose in the house. Clothes for a few days, expensive electronics, the hard drive with all of our family pictures on it, dog food, diapers and wipes, important documents in a plastic bag, etc. I feel so much more relaxed knowing I could just grab Elizabeth and go at any moment.

-I have a list of things I need to do in case we have to leave, just so I don't even have to think about it. Turn off water line and hot water heater (have someone show you how ahead of time if you don't know how). Lock house. The few extra things to grab. Just nice to know I don't even have to stop and think about what to do.

So there you have it. Hopefully you feel better knowing we are so well prepared. Surprisingly, I'm really not scared or worried about anything at all, since we are so well prepared. It's actually been kind of fun an exciting so far. Famous last words, I know! :)

When Hurrican Irene hit last Summer (what's up with all these hurricanes slamming Jersey?? I thought we were supposed to be safe this far North!) I took stock of what's important and realized I was okay with losing everything in the house, as long as my family was safe. I don't think I would have been before that. It's really freeing to not feel tied down to any of your material goods.

And with the power outages this past Summer, it was really fun to focus on what you DO have and can use, and what's nice to have but not really necessary. I'm grateful we have a gas stove, grill, and hot water heater, so we will be able to use all of those still if we lose electricity. I'm grateful for a pantry full of food. For a nice basement for shelter. For great neighbors we can count on for help.

If something happens to the house (our biggest concern is a fairly large tree in the backyard), our first plan is to go to the neighbors. If they are in bad shape too, Brian gave me his pass to get on his military base where we can go stay in the bunker he's at right now.

We have a good plan and are well prepared, so just waiting it out and praying for everyone's safety. It's actually not even raining or very windy right now. The calm before the storm, I suppose. Elizabeth is watching TV in the basement, where we'll probably spend most of the day, and I'm finishing folding some laundry and wrapping up breakfast. I will keep everyone updated on how things are going the best I can. Stay safe everyone!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Simple Blueberry Cream Biscuits Recipe

So long Blueberry Muffins!

Brittany found this recipe in a magazine for Blueberry Cream Biscuits and made them for Easter morning this past year. They were SO good.

It's such a simple recipe, it's something I easily would have passed by.

But I'm SO glad she didn't. They are one of my new favorite treats. I'll take these over blueberry muffins any day now. Plus they are so simple and take just a few minutes to throw together. I stick any extras in the freezer and pop them in the microwave for a few seconds if I need a little snack with my tea or to have something nice to serve if a friend stops by. 

I'll definitely be making these for years to come!

Blueberry Cream Biscuits

2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 t Baking Powder
2 T Sugar
1/2 t Salt
1/4 t nutmeg
1 cup Blueberries
1 1/2 cups Whipping Cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Stir dry ingredients together. Toss in blueberries with the flour mixture. Stir in cream just until moist. Move dough to a floured surface and fold over a few times. Place on parchment lined or greased cookie sheet. Form dough to a 7-8 in. square about 1 inch think. Optional: Sprinkle with a little sugar before baking. Back 17-20 min.