Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!



Wishing all our U.S. readers the Happiest of Thanksgivings!

Many Thanks from PennyWise for all your kind comments, input, and support.



Sunday, November 23, 2014

An Apple a Day: Easy Autumn Baked Apple Chips


It seems the humble apple suddenly takes on a sort of magic in the Autumn; baked into pies and cobblers, warmed as mulled cider or drizzled with caramel it's suddenly the must-have flavor to accompany hay rides, firesides and leaf raking. While never one to turn down these gloriously gooey sugar laden apple sweets, I found dozens of incredibly easy healthier apple snack recipes like these chips on Pinterest. 
I adapted this delicious one from kosher on a budget but there's also a pear version I'm dying to try from kleinworth & co. 

Cinnamon Sugar Baked Apple Chips

I experimented a bit as this is really a non-recipe, recipe. 

 2 large apples (I made a smaller batch but can it be doubled)
cinnamon for sprinkling 
1 Teaspoon sugar
Thinly slice apples into chips. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and top with sugar
 arrange on parchment lined cookie sheet
Bake at 250 degrees 1 1/2 -2 hours, depending on oven 
flip once or twice, until light golden brown and chip-like.
(It's a long cooking time but makes the house smell divine) 

I then popped them in festive cones fashioned from party hats, decorative paper and DIY labels. 
 I created these using images from the Graphics Fairy and added type (one in french for gourmet flair)

For cones, simply remove elastic and unfold party hat to use as template to cut decorative paper

Fold and secure paper into cone shape if sturdy enough or if lightweight paper place over hat for extra support. Add images or embellishments if desired with tape or hot glue. I cut the edges of  natural coffee filters and added as trim

line cone with wax paper and fill with chips and display in a basket of you like.


"Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits"                         

                            Samuel Butler



Options and Add-ins
Toss with raisins, dates or toasted walnuts for fall trail mix
or
Serve on a platter with greek honey yogurt for dipping


Thanks for Visiting and wishing everyone a Happy Fall! 




Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween: Easy Edible Pet ghosts




Browsing the Halloween aisles last season I ran into the most adorable Pet Ghosts in a jar. 
Of course I decided to run home and create my own DIY version with craft supplies I had on hand. It was such fun to make I thought I'd make a mini simpler (but edible) candy versions to give to my favorite little trick or treaters this year.


You'll need
Ghost peeps
Candy corn or other small treats
mini graham cracker pie crust
meltable chocolate
Clear plastic cups in appropriate size 
Printable labels 
embellishments

Melt chocolate according to directions. I used light cocoa but orange or yellow would be fun too.
Spoon into crusts and insert ghosts (Be sure they are standing up straight) and add extra candies of your choice. Let cool and harden completely

top with a plastic cup (these can be taped on if transporting) and add label if desired
or top with a bat ring and bead for an impromptu handle

not too scary labels for little ones

or for serving a tableful

Last year's non-edible version Here

Wishing everyone a Hauntingly
 Happy Halloween

Friday, October 24, 2014

An Enchanting Brew: A Witches' Tea party



 If anyone knows how to throw a party, it's Vanessa Valencia from 
A Fanciful Twist I was delighted to participate in her Mad Tea Party tea party this summer so when I heard she was hosting a Halloween Blog Party I jumped at the chance to take part.
While this is the season for stirring up all sorts of gore and ghoulish magic I thought I'd opt for a less terrifying fete and host an enchanting witches' afternoon tea.
With some scarily simple DIY's, a few hauntingly appropos props and easy semi-scratch recipes it's fun to delight your guests with a bewitching twist on teatime tradition.
  
Setting the Table
There's a  fabulous array of specialty Halloween tableware available for sale in shops and online (some at scarily steep prices) but it's lots of fun to create your own spooktacular dessert dishes without eating into your candy budget. 
This under glass decoupage technique has been around for ages and can be customized to the occasion using your favorite paper images, or even fabrics and trim and paint. 
I made a burlap Thanksgiving version you can see here

You'll Need
Clear glass plates of desired size 
(dollar stores often carry these)
Paper printable or image of choice
ModgePodge
Glass friendly paint
 I kept plates fairly simple using a printable I created with with spooky lettering and Gothic inspired images from The Graphics Fairy I cut out each design to desired size and generously coated the reverse of the plate with Modge Podge. I then firmly but gently attached images to back of plate smoothing often to remove any air bubbles. 
I allowed plenty of time for the plates to dry (several hours) before spritzing the backs with a coat of glass friendly spray paint. I chose one which simulates gold plate for an elegant touch.Once everything is set, a coat of clear varnish can be sprayed on back for extra protection 
Alternately printables could simply be placed under glass plates as temporary decor.


Please note: these dishes are in no way dishwasher safe and should only be wiped gently with a cloth to clean.

Hats Required

Of course a proper hat is a must for any afternoon tea and these downsized  versions of classic witches toppers give a nod to the wildly popular fascinator trend and are lots of fun to put together.
You'll Need
Plastic headbands or hair clips
Assorted Craft supplies which can include:
Small witch hats
decorative trim, tulle, hot glue, faux jewels, glitter, accents, ribbons

This project is really anything goes! I started using a couple small witch hats I found at my craft shop but you can create your own using paper or by cutting down paper party hats and adding a round brim.
I simply adorned mine with lace, paper, glitter and odds and ends.
I then either hot glued to a headband on a slight angle or attached to barrettes or combs. 

On the Menu 

While any fun Halloween recipes could work on the menu, in keeping with the "ladylike" teatime theme, I chose more delicately and subtly spooky fare than all out ghoulish or gory treats. I shared a couple here.

Spiderweb Deviled Eggs
This Classic party staple gets a seasonal twist using crackled hard boiled eggs, which are so popular around Halloween. To showcase the "webs" simply use your favorite deviled recipe and serve vertically on egg cups.  Store bought pumpkin spice cream cheese on cocktail size brown bread make cute pumpkin tea sand"witches" accompaniments.

There are different ways to achieve this crackled look (Martha has one using blueberries) but I tried this version from babble.com which uses frozen cherries for coloring. I've also read that food coloring or dark tea can also be substituted as the flavor is not detected. 



Bats in your Belfry Chocolate Bat 
Cake Toppers
Simple cakes or cupcakes (store bought or homemade) can get an easy accent with chocolate bats. I had seen this clever technique with adorable chocolate butterflies on the blog We lived happily ever after so thought I'd "wing" it with bats.
You'll Need
Frosted Cake or cupcakes
(I bought an angel food cake and added an icing glaze)
black choco melts 

wax paper
thick hardback books

Melt chocolate disks according to instructions and spoon into pastry bag, squeeze bottle or plastic baggie with corner snipped off.


 If desired sketch or print out bat templates, fold in half pressing crease firmly and center between open pages so wings arch outward creating dimension
      
Fold wax papers same way and place over template. Carefully trace template using melted chocolate, filling in silhouette and let cool completely. Once hardened gently lift and peel wax paper from back and attach to cake using icing.
The bat gate found at my craft store was really designed for miniature gardens



Bewitching animals and feathered friends join the party, resting amid natural elements. A bottle of "food coloring" potion adds a touch of magic.

  
A whimsical nest of pearls and timeworn books add interest

and the ladies arrive

Wishing everyone the Most Enchanting of holidays!
 Visit the delightful A fanciful Twist for more Halloween joys
&
links to participating bloggers
&
For these and other ideas pop over to our previous Pennywise Halloween Posts
 DIY Crystal Ball and Raven globes on nevermore 
Whimsical Hot Air Balloons when-pumpkins-fly
a friendly spirit from pet-ghost-in-jar



Monday, October 13, 2014

Thrift Benefit for Sheltered Animals: Animal Lifeline

I so was delighted when I learned talented blogger Jeanette Chaney of Country Design Style was hosting 
Thrift Benefit for Sheltered Animals
again this year. 
Rescue pets have been part of our family for as long as I remember and I was thrilled to support and help bring attention to organizations which benefit this very worthy cause. The fact that the event also includes thrift shopping and crafting made it a 
win-win!
   
The Challenge: 
1) Find a nearby thrift store whose proceeds benefits animals    
 2) Buy an item to redo and/or feature in your blog post 
  3)  Share your post and link up with other participating bloggers on October 14th   
Or   
Inspire others by sharing a story 
about how rescuing a pet has
 impacted your life 
   
    Not familiar with thrift shops benefitting animals in my immediate area, an online search happily led me to Animal Lifeline  
 located in Warrington Pa. Set in a modest suburban shopping plaza, the unassuming storefront belies the amazing scope of work this multifaceted organization does nationwide on behalf of animals in need.
Clockwise from top left: A cheery mural celebrates our furry friends, A four footed coworker on break, Fall and Halloween items welcome shoppers by the front window, china and collectables - including lots of animals of course, much needed Disaster relief

I was delighted to be able to chat with Animal Lifeline's founder Denise Bash who kindly took the time to tell me about some of the history, challenges and goals of this wonderful organization.
Started in 2006 as a garage sale, animal lifeline is now an instrumental resource for animal welfare, partnering with other organizations to help animals who are victims of disasters and abuse as well as raising funds for shelter rebuilds, supplies and much needed spaying and neutering
For more information visit www.animallifelinepa.org

Headlines: responding, rescuing and rebuilding,
stray cat Pele (found trapped in a soccer net) now safe and sound,
a doggy 5k fundraiser, a kitty check-up
photos Animal lifeline site and Pele by Cpaul

The thrift shop itself features 4 rooms brimming with a variety of housewares, clothing, children's items and gifts all delightfully and artfully arranged by theme. (there's even a wedding room) and the helpful cheerful shop staff clearly have a passion for the work they do.
 I found several fabulous treasures.....
 but since Chloe immediately commandeered the footstool, I thought I'd choose it to redo as a fun perch for her and my other finicky feline friends.
I popped off the top of the stool, cutting away the top layer of fabric (there were 3 more layers underneath so this was a re-re-redo) and gave the base a quick spritz using brushed metallic spray paint I had on hand.
I then cut out a layer of 1" foam, adding it for extra "creature" comfort. I tightly covered the top with white canvas fabric, stapling securely to the wood underneath. 
Once taut I began painting using chalk paint and acrylics.

I decided on a regal crowned kitty, stenciling "Le Chat" for some french flair and stamped a border in matte silver. Since the look is a bit shabby chic, I didn't fret over slight dings and drips and smudges.
 A spritz of clear coat added durability and protects against muddy paws. 



Does her majesty approve? We'll have to wait and see.

Love crafting for your critters? 
Visit our previous posts featuring Pennywise Pet Projects
Clockwise from top left
Photo Pet memento from last Years Thrift benefit: Blessing of the animals
Kitty tea party & Upcycled pet bed from a cardboard box from Creature comforts
 Dog biscuits in a jar & Pet silhouettes for the holidays from Not a creature was stirring


Thanks so much for visiting!
 hanging out in the Animal Lifeline office 


Please check out the links below or pop over to Country Design Style for the other bloggers participating in this event and links to touching rescue stories, inspired DIY projects and the various charities serving our furry friends around the country.