Friday, October 26, 2012

Candy Free Halloween

Today is the Monkey's Halloween parade and party at school, and like most of the schools across the county, they are trying to cut down on the sugary treats.  I am a classroom volunteer, which means I am a sucker parent that tries to help out whenever I can.  In this case, it meant that I sent in a treat for the party.  We were to send in apples, grapes, and popcorn.  Woo Hoo!  Let the fun begin.  Fortunately, one family is bringing in cupcakes and cookies.  Can you imagine the mutinty that would have happened this afternoon?

Monkey wanted to give her classmates a Halloween treat, and insisted that she give out candy.  Considering the healthy party snacks, I was hesitant to let her.  Normally I don't care what people think about me, but I didn't want to be labeled "That Parent" for the rest of the year.  We racked our brains to come up with something, but we came up empty handed.  So, off to Pinterest we went (thank God for Pinterest) and we came across the great idea.  Thanks to Love Stiched for the inspiration.

This is super easy, and inexpensive.  I found vampire teeth (12 for $1) at the store, and simply printed out Have a "Fang-Tastic" Halloween! on paper.  We cut out each strip, wrapped them around a set a teeth, and taped the ends together.   Here is the finished product.  Sorry -- it hard to really see what they look like.  Monkey wanted to glow-on-the-dark teeth, and they do not photograph very well.

And here is Monkey, all ready for Halloween fun at school today!

Have a great Halloween -- and be sure to enjoy all of your sugary treats!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Just Like Starbucks? Caramel Apple Spice Love

This time of year is a Starbuck lover's dream.  The big mama coffee house brings back it's pumpkin spice, and coffee drinkers everywhere go crazy.  Hot, cold, iced, whipped, frappe'ed -- you name it, they put that pumpkin in it.

Not me.

I love Starbuck's right now because they bring back their Caramel Apple Spice drink.  Truth me told, they never take it away.  They simply do not advertise it, because not many people wants to be reminded of fall in July.

I LOOOOVE this drink.  If it's made correctly (sorry Barista's...sometimes you guys miss the mark), it's like drinking a caramel apple.  Delish.  But it's a bit expensive.  It seems crazy to pay $3.50 for a warm cup of juice, especially when you can buy a bottle of juice for less than $2 at your grocery store.  Just pour it in a mug, add some mulling spices, and microwave for 45 seconds, right?  Well, you can do that, but it's just not the same.  I took my search to Pinterest (HELLO!!! I obsessed with it right now) to find the Starbucks knock-off, and my search took me to this recipe from Crockpot 365

We gathered the ingredients, and took this pretty picture (please ignore the empty iced tea gallon and gourds in the background.  Her recipe called for caramel syrup, but didn't specify which specific brand.  Even though her picture shows Smucker's, we used Hershey's (it was on sale).
Following the directions, we put everything in our handy dandy crock pot (another obsession), and we got this mess.  I do believe that food doesn't have to look good -- it just has to taste good.

The waiting was torture, as the house smelled like fall.  It was finally time, and we took the taste test, was good, but not exactly like Starbucks.  My husband thinks it might have something do with with the syrup we used, as he thought it might too thin.  I was sort of turned off by the little chunks of spices that didn't dissolve.  The next time I make this, I think I will put the spices in cheesecloth or a tea strainer.

So, Starbucks, thanks for the idea to search for a knock off.  I'm sure I'll be in your stores soon to give you some of my money, but for the most part, I will stick with this!