Monday, October 13, 2014

Our "Firefly" Halloween; plus, a free "Firefly" pumpkin stencil!

I feel really behind on life right now.  I'm waaaay behind on that promised purse tutorial I mentioned a while back...sorry!  I've made progress on the PDF pattern for it, and readying photos for the blog tutorial, but neither is quite ready yet and I want to post them together.  [UPDATE: Finished, and posted here!] the hopes of buying forgiveness with a season-appropriate craft:

Free "Firefly" logo pumpkin stencil!

We're big "Firefly" fans.

Actually, that's a bit of an understatement: both our kids are named after characters from the show.  Our daughter, Kaylie, is named after Kaywinnit Lee Frye ("Kaylee") from "Firefly" (yes, I know we spelled it wrong, but her middle name starts with yet another "e"), and my very favorite baby shower gift, from a very crafty dear friend, was this jumpsuit modeled after the one Kaylee wears on the show:

Our Kaylie as Kaylee.

This was Kaylie's first Halloween costume, back in 2011.

So, naturally, Casey and I threw together "Zoe" and "Wash" costumes to match:

Me as Zoe.

Casey as Wash.

Kaylie loved gnawing on the dinosaurs during our photo shoot:

"Mine is an evil laugh; now, DIE!"

And our costumes inspired me to carve a pumpkin to stick with the theme!

I found a good shot of the logo online, printed it off, and traced it to create my own stencil.

This was my first time experimenting with carving just the skin off in some places while leaving the inner layer of pumpkin pith (yeah, I totally just looked up what that's called) in others, to let differing amounts of light through.  I was incredibly pleased with how it turned out!  It's like the logo was intended to be a pumpkin carve...

All right, here's the promised stencil:

Click to embiggen, then right-click to save or copy; adjust size before printing.

My scanner was revolting a bit, refusing to make a clean PDF of my original, so I ended up scanning it into a photo and cropping it.  So, you'll want to adjust the size of the image before printing--but I figured you'd probably need to do that anyway, given pumpkin size variation.

After printing, tape the paper to the "front" of your pumpkin, and use a push-pin or thumb tack to trace the design onto your pumpkin.  The sections that are solid black (the letters) will need to be cut all the way through; the white parts outlined in black (the rays), you'll just want to remove the skin of the pumpkin (I recommend using a small blade, like an X-acto knife) so the light will shine mutedly through the pith.

If you use my stencil, I'd love to see a picture of your pumpkin--leave a link in the comments!

"Firefly" Halloween.

Happy Halloween! :-)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Easy Zesty Green Beans.

Cooking these days is hard.  I have a three-year-old with constant questions, and things to show me, and more questions, and problems only Mommy can solve, and more questions; and a one-year-old who gets into everything, finds creative ways to get into everything and reach everything and eat everything, and can't go three minutes without a hug.  I love them dearly, but dear Lord is it hard sometimes to set aside a good chunk of time--especially at a specific time of day--to put the effort into making dinner.

My favorite dishes are the kind that take no more than five minutes to make, can be made at any time during the day and left in the fridge or on the counter until cooking time, and can be left alone in the oven or crockpot without needing to be baby-sat.

This is one of those dishes.

Three-ingredient two-minute-prep green beans.

This simple dish was inspired by the Lazy Chicken Dinner I often make.  It's an easy way to add a quick veggie side to any meal that's already going in the oven.

All you need:


  • 1 can (14.5 oz) green beans
  • 2 tsp (half a packet) Zesty Italian dressing mix
  • 3 Tbsp butter
The above amounts are all we need for our small family (two adults and a three-year-old), but it's an easy recipe to double (and then you don't have to measure out half the packet!) for more people.

All you do is...

Dump the green beans in an oven-safe dish.

Sprinkle the Zesty Italian dressing mix over the beans (I usually stir a little to make sure they all get seasoned).

Top with pats of butter.

Cover with foil.

Pop it in the oven!  Thirty minutes at 350 is a good baseline, but I've put it in for less time at a higher temperature, too, and it's turned out just as good.  Really, just pop it in with whatever else is cooking!

Done!  Definitely one of my favorite go-to veggie dishes--so easy, and it tastes great!

And for your cut-and-paste convenience:

Easy Zesty Green Beans
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) green beans
  • 2 tsp (half packet) Zesty Italian dressing mix
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  1. Dump green beans in oven-safe dish.
  2. Sprinkle with dressing mix.
  3. Top with pats of butter.
  4. Cover with foil.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes at 350, or adjust time for higher temperature.
Enjoy!  Eat your veggies! :-)