Archive for October, 2011

Happy Halloween from the Clark Family

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Happy Halloween to your family from ours!  I wanted to share with you a few of the pictures I took of the kids in their Halloween costumes. This year the requests were to be a Ninja and to be Rapunzel.

Last year’s fairy costume that we picked up from Cracker Barrel magically transformed into the perfect Rapunzel dress. After buying a terrible, terrible wig to go with it from the local costume shop, I found myself at the Disney store to pick up the authentic Rapunzel hair that she could play dress-up with all year long. She was so excited when she saw it and was willing to compromise on not having the official Rapunzel dress as long as she could wear a pink sleeved shirt underneath to make it look like the real Rapunzel.

The Ninja outfit I picked up at Walmart for  $12. Of course the only way I could get my son to agree to do pictures with his sister were in full Ninja attack mode.  After we were done with the photos, I couldn’t stop laughing and looking at them. I think my daughter has her mama’s flair for the dramatics. I wonder if I will be watching her on the stage like my parents watched me.

Not to be outdone by our children, my husband and I schemed and dreamed of costumes for months this year.  I don’t mean to gush, but it is moments like this when I look at my husband and think, “How did I get this lucky?” I have been with this man since he was fifteen. Our parents used to drop us off for our dates because neither of us could drive. We were high school sweethearts that really worked out, and I think I know everything a girl could know about him.  Then something like this comes up, and he surprises me.

In case you couldn’t tell from the pictures, we went as Marry Poppins and Bert from my favorite childhood movie.  We both wanted to make sure we got the look right.  The clothes we both already owned. The bow tie I am wearing was his  from our third prom together (I still had it in a box of mementos from our high school days). I tied grosgrain ribbon around my waist and grabbed the umbrella from my husband’s car. We found Ryan’s hat and gloves at Walmart and my hat from a local costume shop.  The broom was an inexpensive broom from Target that he took the stitching apart and spray painted with a $.98 can of spray paint from Walmart.  I got a sprig of daisies to weave into the hat and just took my giant purse that I use daily as my, “carpet bag.” We probably spent about $20 or so on the whole look, but had the best time making these outfits happen.

I did splurge and buy myself a tube of fancy red lipstick. I have always wanted to wear red lipstick, but never felt confident enough to do it.  I am hoping to wear this on a date night or two.  The color is Red Zin from Bare Escentuals and I am really liking it for a little something different.  Maybe this old girl can surprise her husband once in awhile too!

Happy Halloween, everyone! Have a safe and fun night with your family and friends this evening!

Hearty Beef Stew

Monday, October 31st, 2011

With the weather in cool weather swing in the Midwest, I have been adding a lot of hearty soups and stews to our menu plans. Beef stew is one of my favorite dishes to make because it is so richly satisfying with so many of the pantry and fridge staples that I already have on hand. I have tried many beef stew recipes and never found, “the one,” for our family…that is until now. In fact, this is the first pot of stew that I have ever even gotten my family to attempt eating, let alone beg for the leftovers the next day.

This stew is so rich and decadent,  because of the use of bacon in this stew. The bacon fat is what all of the vegetables get coated in for cooking and then the cooked bacon is set aside for crumbling on top of the stew once it comes out of the oven.  I filled the broth with red wine and beef broth, but the wine could be replaced with the beef broth if you don’t have that on hand. Either way, this soup is delicious and filling.

I know this dish might not be for the diet conscious, but it is for those nights when you want something comforting and satisfying on the weekend. I served these big bowls of stew up with bacon crumbles and fresh parsley. On each plate I nestled my easy Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins to round out the dinner.

I have discovered if those muffins are involved…

I can get my kids to try anything that might be put in front of them.

That is my secret to picky eating in my house.

Serve a muffin.


Hearty Beef Stew


3 lbs. boneless beef chuck

4 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped

2 Tbs. canola oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 yellow onion, chopped (I omitted because we don’t like onions)

3 carrots, cut into chunks

3 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch lengths

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

6 Tbs. all-purpose flour

4 cups beef stock or broth

2 Tbs. tomato paste

1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish

1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 1/4 lbs. red-skinned potatoes


Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Cut the beef into 1 1/2-inch cubes and set aside. In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and browned, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside. Pour the fat into a heatproof bowl. Return 2 Tbs. of the fat to the pot and heat over medium-high heat. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper. In batches to avoid crowding, add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer the beef to a plate.

Add another 2 Tbs. of the fat to the pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and let it melt. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Gradually stir in the stock, and then stir in the tomato paste, the 1 Tbs. parsley and the thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Return the beef to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover, place in the oven, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Cut the unpeeled potatoes into 1-inch cubes, add them to the pot, stir, re-cover and continue cooking until both the meat and potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes more. Season the stew with salt and pepper. Serve at once, garnished with parsley and the reserved bacon. Serves 6.

Variaton: Substitute 1 1/2 cups hearty red wine, such as Syrah or Zinfandel, for an equal amount of the beef stock. If you like, sauté 1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, quartered, in 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes, and add them to the stew with the potatoes.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Serving Size: 8

Recipe Source: Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food

Amy’s Notebook 10.26.11

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

These jack o’ lantern waffles are too cute (@ Random Thoughts of a Supermom)

These breakfast tacos look like a great way to start your day (@ Annie’s Eats)

I love this diamond tufted ottoman made from an old coffee table (@ Less-Than-Perfect Life of Bliss)

Is there anything more precious than this sweet Dear Daughter Diary? (@ How Does She?)

These oatmeal cookie pancakes look like a fun morning treat (@ Cheeky Kitchen)

I am in love with these ideas for DIY Halloween decorations (@ made)

How adorable are these DIY boot socks (@ Oops! I Craft My Pants)

This $4 t-shirt wreath would be a cute way to decorate for Halloween (@ tatertots & jello)

This pumpkin & apple cider cocktail sounds like a fun autumn drink (@ Serious Eats)

I need to make some of this DIY t-shirt yarn for some of my knitting projects (@ let birds fly)

I love these ideas for creating a budget-friendly craft space (@ older and wiser)

This cinnamon roll pumpkin vanilla sheet cake would be a fun treat to share with friends (@ Picky Palate)

This open pantry remodel is so inspiring (@ Small Notebook)

Watching Your Pumpkins Grow

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

It was another fun day at the Pumpkin Patch this year. Some of us (ahem) may have had more fun than others. I finally have some photographic proof that sometimes I am a fun mom. Just sometimes.

Every year I take a picture of them doing the same pose at the same pumpkin patch so that I can see how big my little pumpkins are getting. Sometimes I forget how different they look from year to year. Seeing it all side by side… well, it makes me happy and makes my heart ache all at the same time. The differences are quite remarkable to me.

Try doing this at your pumpkin patch and see what results you find. Line them all up in a Picnik collage and marvel at how big your kids are getting. Those pumpkins grow so fast, don’t they?

All Knitted Up: GAP-Tastic Cowl

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011


Last year was the year of the Ruffled Scarf for my scarf knitting. This year I wanted to try my hand at my first eternity scarf to keep me warm. I had asked for these super long circular needles last year for Christmas for my baby blankets and specifically to make an eternity scarf, but never got around to it with all of the other knitting projects on my needles.

I got the urge to crank this out after seeing this fun, free pattern on Ravelry. I happened to have two balls of chunky gray yarn in my growing stash of yarn (to which I must now sit upon to shut the tote in our basement, almost like a really scary yarn Jack-in-the-Box) and I thought I would put it to work.

I could not be more pleased with how this turned out, if I tried. It is the perfect accessory with your favorite fall coat and I spent less than $10 to create this Gap scarf knock-off.

Fall-Tastic Cowl

Pattern: GAP-Tastic Cowl (available as a free Ravelry download with your free Ravelry membership)

Needle Size: US  13 (40″ circulars work well for this project)

Yarn: Lion Brand Hometown USA in Dallas Gray (2 balls, purchased at Walmart)

Notes: This pattern is the perfect pattern to tackle while catching up on your favorite shows since it is a mindless seed stitch pattern.

I made my cowl 7” wide and cast on 111 stitches for this cowl. I had only a tiny bit of yarn leftover so I would think if you did the pattern as directed that you may need three skeins.

This cowl will loop three times when worn around my neck. Due to the bulk of the chunky yarn, I don’t think you need more than 7” width if you are planning to wear it snugly around your neck.

You definitely want the longest circulars you have for this one because of the amount of stitches and having enough space to knit this in the round. I used my 40” bamboo circulars, which worked perfectly for this type of yarn and project.

I am in love with this cowl and would highly recommend this cute pattern for a fun holiday gift or for a gift to yourself. I look forward to wearing this a lot this fall!




Just to crack you up, it was a billion degrees out on the day that we took these pictures in front of my little house. The neighbors always seem amused by our family, but I had a feeling that they were really amused by this little photo shoot while they mowed their lawns in their shorts and tank tops.

It is hard to explain that a girl is working on her Fall/Winter calendar while it is still hot out.


Always one to draw attention away from myself,  we really started hamming it up for the neighbors. Under all of this fall loveliness was a sweaty mess.

Now that it is finally cooling down, I can’t wait to wear this fun and fashionable cowl all fall and winter long!


Disclosure: The links to the knitting supplies are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate what you need quickly and easily. Feel free to order your supplies elsewhere, but we always try to highlight the best deals when we see them.

What craft projects have you been working on? Feel free to share any links to what you are working on and be sure to friend me on Ravelry if you happen to be a knitter too! Access all of our craft fun on MomAdvice by visiting our Craft Section. Happy crafting, friends!

An Apron Full of Giveaways: Minute Maid OJ for a Year Closing

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
Flapper Girl, $24

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week,  here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Our  Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice for an ENTIRE YEAR is ending on Thursday! Be sure to get those entries in so your family can enjoy free juice all year long!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we aren’t giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!

Weeknight Roast Turkey Sandwiches

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Few things say fall is here to me like the delicious flavor of roast turkey. While many think of roasting a turkey as only a routine done on Thanksgiving, I think of roasting a turkey as an easy weeknight dish that can be turned into delicious packed sandwiches for my kid’s lunchboxes and a lifesaver for busy weeknights when I don’t feel like cooking.

When I worked in Massachusetts, there was a tiny little shack of a restaurant that was situated just across the street from our complex where I worked. People would line up for miles and miles around this little hut and after eating one sandwich from there, I was able to see what the fuss was all about.

The owner would get up at 3 in the morning to begin the process of roasting turkeys for her customers. The turkeys were transformed into turkey sandwiches that were served smeared with a delicious cranberry spread.  The other turkeys were made into turkey salad sandwiches and delicious turkey-filled soups. It smelled like Thanksgiving every day there and, I can tell you, there is just nothing more distracting than a smell like that when you are trying to accomplish the day’s work.

This is my little replica of a roasted turkey sandwich that I have been missing since we moved away. We vary our toppings depending on what is in the fridge. These can be served with fresh veggies and cheese, served open-faced with a little gravy on top, or smeared with a little cranberry spread (should you be feeling festive).

The best part is that these are just as easy as roasting a chicken, especially since I love to buy the boneless turkeys at grocery local store (I buy the Kirkwood Boneless Turkey Breast at Aldi, $7.99 for 3 pounds).  To keep the turkey moist, I add a cup of chicken broth to cover it.

I guarantee that once you try this meat for your sandwiches, you will never want to go back to the processed deli meat.

And who doesn’t want to enjoy a little taste of Thanksgiving on an otherwise ordinary day?


Weeknight Roast Turkey Sandwiches


1- 3 pound boneless, white turkey breast (thawed)
2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
Salt & Pepper
Poultry Seasoning
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Drizzle the skin of the turkey with olive oil and sprinkle salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning generously on the top of the turkey breast. Pour 1 cup of the chicken broth in the bottom of a roasting pan to keep the bird moist.  Roast the turkey at 350 degrees for 90 minutes. Allow the bird to roast uncovered until the skin is crisp & golden. Cover with a foil tent after it has reached the desired color.

Allow the turkey to rest fifteen minutes after cooking before cutting.

Note: To store the meat, pour the other half of the can (one cup)  of chicken broth in a container to cover the turkey meat  and keep it moist.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Serving Size: 8

Giveaway Results: One Year’s Supply of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed Orange Juice

Thursday, October 20th, 2011
(mobile upload from my shoot with Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice set)

Sorry this giveaway is now closed. We would like to congratulate Brandy B. (Comment #23) on winning Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice for an entire year. You can imagine my happiness for her! Thank you all for your entries and please check back soon for more great giveaways with Minute Maid Pure Squeezed.

Over the last few months I have had the incredible luck to work as the spokesperson for Minute Maid Pure Squeezed which has been a fun and exciting opportunity for our entire family. This week I am traveling to New York for a media day to share more about the latest addition to the Minute Maid portfolio of delicious beverages. In conjunction with my media day, we wanted to share a giveaway with all of you for a year’s supply of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice.

With Halloween quickly approaching, I have gathered a few fun tips for how you can celebrate the festivities by throwing an orange-themed Halloween party with your family and friends.


Serve fun, orange foods like a cheese ball covered in shredded cheddar cheese with a celery stick for the stem, baked pumpkin donuts, orange punch, and caramel apples rolled in bright orange sprinkles.

Hollow out pumpkins to serve dips in or use a hallowed pumpkin as an ice bucket for your drinks.

For those guests (and hosts!) looking for lighter options, offer delicious, festively-hued food and beverage items, including the all-new, great tasting Minute Maid Pure Squeezed Light Orange Juice Beverage with Calcium and Vitamin D which has just 50 calories per 8 fluid ounce serving, cantaloupe in Halloween shapes (use pumpkin or witch hat-shaped cookie cutters to cut), and carrot sticks or orange pepper strips with hummus.


Light a pathway to your party with tin can Jack-o’-Lanterns. Spray paint old Folgers coffee cans orange and use a nail and hammer to punch in the faces on these tin can pumpkins. Place votive candles in each tin to guide guests up to the door.

Decorate your party table with helium-filled orange balloons. Add Jack-O-Lantern faces on the balloons and tie them to cellophane bags filled with orange candy like M&M’s. At the end of the party, these can be given to each party guest when they leave as a thank you for coming to the party.


Fill a clear container with candy corns and have guests guess how many candy corns are in the jar. The winner gets to take the jar of candy corn home with them.

Tie pumpkin donuts (recipe below) on a string for a fun game. Tie a long string around a donut and fasten the other end of the string to a very sturdy ceiling hook or fixture (or you can use a tree branch if outside). The donut needs to be just above the contestant’s head. The object is for the player to eat the donut using his or her teeth only (no hands). The player must jump for the donut.

Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Syrup Frosting

Recipe credit: Amy Clark

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 tsp cloves

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons butter, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 tablespoons milk

1 cup pumpkin purée

For the Maple Syrup Glaze:

1 1/2 cups confectioners’  sugar

1/4 cup milk

1/8 cup maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease two doughnut pans. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In another medium bowl, cream together the brown sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla extract, milk, and pumpkin puree. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined. Fill each doughnut mold 3/4’s full with batter. Bake 8-10 minutes or until the doughnuts spring back when touched. Remove from the pan and cool completely.

For the maple syrup glaze: In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup and milk; stir well. Add additional milk, if needed, to reach desired consistency. Drizzle over donuts.

I don’t want to just talk about how much you will love the new Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice, I actually want to give it to you and save you that expense for an entire year! Minute Maid has graciously offered to give one of our lucky readers a year’s supply of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice. I am so excited for you!

Today we are offering one lucky reader a year’s supply of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice. Leave one comment for each item that you complete to enter:

  • First Entry: Leave a comment and let us know which variety of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice you are interested in trying for your family- No Pulp 100% Orange Juice, No Pulp 100% Orange Juice with Calcium and Vitamin D, Some Pulp 100% Orange Juice, or Light Orange Juice Beverage with Calcium and Vitamin D with 50 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving.
  • Additional Entry: Let us know you are a fan of Minute Maid and join the Minute Maid Facebook Page.
  • Additional Entry: Follow me on Twitter and get an early scoop on what I am up to and future giveaway opportunities with Minute Maid!

One winner, chosen at random, will receive a year’s supply of Minute Maid Pure Squeezed Orange Juice (52 coupons). Please submit your entries by Thursday (10/27) at 8PM EST.  Our winner will be drawn at random. Good luck, everyone!

I am a spokesperson for Minute Maid Pure Squeezed orange juice and have a relationship with the company. Want to know more about how things are handled here at MomAdvice? Be sure to read our Disclaimer which clearly states how things work and know that we will always offer only the best reviews to our readers. In full disclosure, the email addresses that are collected for this giveaway will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner(s), and will never be sold or given to anyone. This giveaway is only open to residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older. Entries that do not follow the above criterion will automatically be disqualified. This giveaway will close Thursday, October 27 at 8PM (EST). I’ll announce the first name of the winner(s) that will be added to the top of this current giveaway post and contact the winner(s) by email. I will draw the names of the winner(s) by using the random number generator at from the eligible entries received. If a winner does not contact me within 72 hours by email, I will draw a new winner. The winner(s) will receive their prize from the PR agency responsible for this giveaway.

Amy’s Notebook 10.19.11

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

This mud closet transformation is breathtakingly awesome (@ The 36th Avenue)

I love this Pottery Barn sign knockoff (@ Crafted Niche)

This Halloween crow garland is adorable and thrifty (@ Homework)

This hot spiced cranberry cider sounds like a fun fall drink (@ The Inspired Room)

I want to make these DIY wine glass charms for hostess gifts this year (@ Centsational Girl)

I am going to have to try this recipe for creamy caramel apple dip (@ The Crafting Chicks)

These slow cooker poached pears in a caramel sauce look like a great fall dessert (@ The Perfect Pantry)

Who would have ever thought to use PVC pipe as an adornment to an old dresser? (@ Vintage Revivals)

I want to try this recipe for pumpkin latte coffee cake (@ The Lettered Cottage)

These felt bow headbands would make a beautiful baby gift (@ Trey & Lucy)

I love this fun and delicious science project- how to make homemade rock candy (@ Gluesticks)

It isn’t too late to make the house cute with these adorable free Halloween printables (@ just peachy)

I am doing this frugal and easy idea for organizing your cords (@ Living Locurto)

These painted pumpkin jars would make cute Halloween decorations (@ make it and love it)

An Apron Full of Giveaways: Windex Giveaway Closes Today

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011
Flapper Girl, $21

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week,  here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Our Windex giveaway ends today! Be sure to get your entries in to win one of two Windex prize packs. The entry volume is low on this one so you have a great chance of winning!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we aren’t giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!