My 11-year-old loves butterflies.  Really loves them. She saved her money and bought a butterfly encyclopedia, studies it intently, draws them incessantly, folds origami ones, and analyzes any she spots outside.  So I wasn't surprised when she wanted to be a monarch butterfly for Halloween.  We looked online and found a couple tutorials- one for felt wings, another using foam core board, then made something almost completely different.  It was cheaper, and probably easier. And the only things I had to buy were orange posterboard and crushed panne.  She is tickled pink.  Or orange and black, in this case.

Here's what we used:
2 full-sized posterboard, orange ($1 each)
a realistic drawing of butterfly wings like this
a ruler
2 black Sharpie markers
scissors
Con-tact clear liner (optional)
1 wire hanger
3 hot glue sticks and a glue gun
2  18" wooden dowels (3/8" thick)
1 1/2 yards of 1/4- 1/2" elastic

and for the dress, 1 1/4 yards of black knit crushed panne velvet ($4) and a T-shirt that fit her well to use as a pattern,
but you could use black sweats or whatever else works.
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This was really easy for me because she did all the tracing, coloring, and cutting for the wings.  :)
And the dress took about 1 hour total, including her doing some of the sewing, from the time I spread the fabric out on my fancy cutting surface (the living room floor) until the time the dress was being slipped over her head.

Quick version of instructions:
1- draw a grid on the butterfly picture and on one posterboard.  I used one posterboard for each side of the butterfly.  Make a scale drawing on your posterboard using the scale method of drawing.  Or if your computer can handle it, enlarge it to be big enough
2- color in the black using the markers. 
3- Flip it face-down.  Put the other posterboard on top, then put them both up on a window so you can see where to trace for the second set of wings.
4- Cut out, then cover with Con-tact liner if you want.
5- overlap each top wing slightly and glue or tape them on the back so they stay together.
6- using a hanger, hot glue gun, a piece of leftover posterboard, and wooden dowels or something else narrow and stiff, assemble the wings.
7- add two loops of elastic to the center, big enough to go around the child's shoulders.  I used two 26" long pieces, then knotted them.

See the slide show to see what I did.  

I didn't want to spend as much time on this tutorial as we did on the costume... but if you have questions, leave a comment!  :)
 
 
Today I read a research article about how having breakfast as your biggest meal of the day  rather than dinner can lead to both better insulin sensitivity and increased fertility.  In the study, they had women consume about 980 calories at breakfast, which was just over half the amount for the whole day.  If you use two slices of homemade or other good-quality whole-wheat bread (about 120 calories apiece), one large egg  (80 cal), and a one-ounce slice of real cheese (about 100 cal), you're almost halfway there.  I love to eat this with a fresh apple (a medium-large apple is about 100 calories).  

OK, so that's still not up to the numbers in the study.  But it's a great breakfast anyway.  Maybe make two?  

In less time than it takes to go through the drive-through, you can have a breakfast sandwich you made yourself.  At the bargain-hunting prices I pay for food (including making the bread), a two-slice sandwich costs just under $ .30.  (The bread costs me about $ .50 for a 1 1/2 pound loaf.  See the recipe here.)  
Dress it up with anything you want on it, or leave it simple.  I don't add salt to the egg because the cheese and bread are salty enough for me. For more flavor, add a sprinkle of oregano or other seasoning.  You can make it as healthy as you like; I use homemade whole-wheat bread for a breakfast that sticks with me for more than an hour.

Here are the quick instructions:  microwave one beaten egg for about 45 seconds, top it with a slice of cheese, put this on top of a slice of toast.
If you want a sausage-and-egg sandwich, before cooking your egg, put one precooked sausage link into the cereal bowl, chop it up with the fork, then add the egg and beat it. 

The photos below have more detailed instructions.
 
 
This is seriously amazing frosting, one you'll want to take your time eating, to capture every nuance of the flavor.

Why is it so good?  

Well, look at the name.  White chocolate.  Butter.  Cream.  Need I say more?  
Yeah, it wouldn't be smart to eat it every day.  But- boy, is it delicious!  Even better, it's really easy.

I found this in a magazine when my now-16-year-old was a newborn.  Really newborn; a magazine at my hospital bedside.  There were several intriguing recipes in there; I wrote them on a slip of paper, then tucked them in my recipe binder once at home.  The paper is still there, and three of those recipes are now favorites of mine:  Lattice Pineapple Pie, Orange-Coconut Muffins, and this frosting.  

It's one to savor.  You can also refrigerate or freeze this and shape it into truffles. Roll in chopped almonds, powdered sugar, sprinkles, or fine cookie crumbs, or dip in melted white or milk chocolate.  

My favorite white chocolate for this recipe is Guittard white chocolate chips.  To me, the Nestle white chips have a overly-cooked-and-sweet flavor, so I avoid those.   Chips are cheaper than baking squares, and the good ones have a great dairy-and-vanilla taste.  And I almost always use evaporated milk in this recipe; since it's a pantry item, I always have some on hand, unlike fresh cream.

White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (about 2 cups frosting)

1 cup (6 oz.) white chocolate, melted and cooled-  or 6-(1 oz) squares white chocolate
1/4 cup cream or evaporated milk, or regular milk if you must (not as rich- but passable)
1 cup cold butter, cut into 1" cubes
1 cup powdered sugar

Beat together the white chocolate and cream.  When smooth, with the mixer running, beat in 1 cube of butter at a time.  Add powdered sugar; beat about 2 minutes, until smooth and fluffy.

If you have essential oils, one drop of orange oil would add subtle dimension.




 
 
Saturday October 5th and Sunday October 6th there are two sessions per day of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

God loves his children in every time period, and gives us his Word.  

"...has the day of miracles ceased?

Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain."   - Moroni 7:35-37

I know that faith has not ended, that miracles continue, and the blessings of God to us are increasing in the lives of those who listen to his voice- listening both to that peaceful inner voice and to those who speak for him today.  Write down questions you need answered, then listen for direction.  You will get it.

Come listen to living prophets.

-Rhonda

Children's activities for Conference can be found here.
 
 
No, it's not that Plum Pudding from past centuries, the kind that has more in common with bread pudding.  

This is what we modern folks call pudding- a thickened, creamy, sweetened mixture.

As you can see, I have an abundance of plums right now.  This used up a bunch of them!

Plum Pudding

about 1 1/2 lbs plums
1/2 cup milk or cream
one 3.4-oz package instant pudding- vanilla, lemon, or butterscotch flavor (the size that calls for 2 cups of milk)
optional: 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ginger, and/or cardamom

Wash plums and remove the pits.  Put them in a blender or food processor, run on high until smooth.  If you don't have three cups of puree, add a few more plums until you do; blend again.  Pour into a medium-sized bowl.  Pour 1/2 cup milk or cream into the blender or food processor bowl, swish around so the milk gets most of the puree off the sides.  Pour this into the bowl with puree.  Add the pudding powder and whisk for two minutes. Taste to see if it's sweet enough for your taste; some plums are sweeter than others!  If not sweet enough, stir in 1 Tbsp sugar and taste again.  Repeat as needed.  :)
Let rest for a few minutes to set up.  

Makes about 4 cups.

Garnish with a bit of sour cream if you like.