Friday, October 31, 2008
I didn't carve a pumpkin until I was 23 and I still really suck at it. You would think I would be pretty good at it since I am a makeup artist and a pumpkin has the same rounded surface as a face. But then again I don't usually take chunks out of women's skin as I'm doing their makeup so never mind.
This year I didn't even bother carving any pumpkins, choosing instead to roast two of them and make two of the tastiest pies I've ever had. I thought I didn't like pie, but after my first foray into from-scratch pies with organic filling I realize I do, just not crappy store-bought ones.
I did decorate the porch a bit--my Eco-Skeleton is hanging proudly, glowing in the moonlight. I'm not a complete grinch, of course I took my boys trick-or-treating but with their tooth issues and a diabetic Papa (who was diagnosed shortly after Halloween at age 10) I feel more than a little nervous about giving them very much candy. Tomorrow I'm going to broach the idea of the "Candy Witch" who needs their candy to survive and will trade them the toy of their choice in exchange for it. Or something along those lines.
I'm much more interested in the spiritual celebration that occurs on the two days directly following Halloween: Dia De Las Muertos or Day of the Dead. Tomorrow, November 1 is All Saint's Day and most regions of Mexico the day is spent honoring children who have died and is referred to as "Día de los Inocentes" (Day of the Innocents) but also as "Día de los Angelitos" (Day of the Little Angels)
November 2 is referred to as November 2nd as "Día de los Muertos" or "Día de los Difuntos" (Day of the Dead) and honors adults who have passed on.
Check out this month's Cut Out & Keep Snippets magazine where I speak with the Crafty Chica a little bit about how she and her family celebrate.
I have lost some people very close to me: my grandmother on my mom's side (who was a twin) my grandfather on my dad's side (who loved Patsy Cline) my dear friend Anthony, recently my favorite great-uncle, my young cousin Hollie and my father, who I miss every single day.
My dad was a student of Eastern religions including Hinduism which has some similar imagery (Kali) to the Catholic celebrations of Dias de los Muertos. I would much rather spend the beginning of the cold season by honoring and remembering those I have lost and fortifying and preparing for the shorter days ahead than gorging on crappy candy that I never buy and don't want my kids to eat.
And there is something in me that can't see a tiny Heath bar or Almond Joy and pass it by. I guess the upside is that it's once a year, but that's a dubious rationalization.
I'm not saying it can't be fun, I know many people who live for Halloween. I guess I'm just not one of them. But I do want to build traditions with my family that are special and meaningful and I do hope that the respect for death and celebration of life of Dias de los Muertos is in there somewhere.
Oh, and don't forget to set your clock ahead on November 2nd! (But not you, Crafty Chica! You're in Arizona!) Yay, I love gaining an hour.
I hope this didn't come across as bitter, I was just reminiscing after the obligatory trot around our neighborhood in search for cool lawn decorations and candy. (I actually did have a lot of fun this year, though)
I hope everyone had/is having a great holiday! I'll post pictures of the boys trick-or-treating later! And I'd love to hear how you and your family celebrate!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
*Above photo just a random house I found online...not implying that a pedophile lives here!
I read this article over at the BabyCenter blogs and was completely surprised. I don't know if Maryland is the only state that does this, but I think I will be a little more leery when walking my boys past houses with their porch lights out this year. I used to just think they were cranky children-haters but now I see it could be something much different than that. Ugh!
*From the post:
"When trick-or-treating in Maryland this year, a sign on a front door with a pumpkin on it and the words “NO CANDY AT THIS RESIDENCE” means more than having a party-pooper for a neighbor.
According to the Washington Times, Maryland’s Division of Parole and Probation has sent these signs to violent and child-sex offenders with instructions to hang on their doors. Recipients were also told to stay at home on Halloween, turn off outside lights, and not answer the door. Those who do not comply will be taken to court and charged with a violation of parole."
So in the post below I asked my crafty friends out there what they make for the men in their life.
Every year I excitedly give all my lady friends pretty, perfect, yummy presents and the guys get...uh, well.
This year I want to remedy that. I am committed to mostly giving gifts that are handmade either by myself or someone else and I was at a loss for "macho crafts" (as Bill Murray said he wanted at the Maker Faire)
But after doing a bit of research here is a list I'm excited about:
- Duct tape wallet and here
- Record bowls
- Hats, hats or hats
- Socks (never mind that I have never attempted to knit a pair of socks...first time for everything, though right??)
- Shaving stuff to make or buy
- Cookies and/or candy
Any other ideas? Any crafty goodness you made for your man or dad or brother or co-worker that he loved??? Fellas, any handcrafted goods you'd love to find in your stocking?
I found this project over at Craftstylish and can't wait to try it. I think I'm getting my craft mojo back! (not that I've minded it's absence really since I've been busy at home)
I love this pattern and the fact that it uses just a bit of really yummy yarn to make a quick and lovely Christmas gift. I also love that it uses the feather and fan stitch pattern, my favorite.
My problem, though is that I have TOO many gifts for women and
Last year I knitted my British father in law a hot water bottle cozy and that was great, but now what for this year? Maybe he needs a whole wardrobe for his water bottle? I can knit a new one each year? No...well, back to the drawing board then.
Fellow crafters: what do you make for the men in your life?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
When I was in the second grade there was a little boy in my class named Warren. Every day he was filthy and smelled like dried pee. I recoiled every time he came near me and to this day I have a serious aversion to both the name Warren and the smell of dried urine.
Now that I'm a mom I wonder why no one in a position of authority questioned why this poor little boy was so neglected. When I was a kid I somehow thought this was his fault, that maybe he naturally smelled bad but now I feel sad about this kid and hope he made it through to adulthood ok.
This project looks like fun! I can't wait to try it out. I've been on a crafting hiatus. But after I clean my work station maybe this might just be the project to get me back on the crafty train!
Their uncle is a chef so maybe they'll follow in his footsteps? They don't have their own aprons yet but they looked really cute in mine!
Moomers explains his cooking philosophy:
Moomers steals the pasta!
LeeLee stirs the ground turkey (don't worry, it's on super low heat and I was carefully supervising!)
I really want to just donate it all but for now they are living in a plastic bin in their closet:
I moved their basic art supplies into their room too (they used to be in the living room for some reason. Their closet is crammed full of other art stuff that I don't want them to use without supervision)
Oh, no. After all that I forgot to check under their beds! Grr, more work!
The boys play happily in their newly clean room, rediscovering old toys. "New, Mama?" Um. Yes. These are new. ;)
Next up: My crazy messy work space. Next week.
The boys do some art while watching Barney. Why, why do they like Barney???
I love to bake and cook but I have an admission: I had previously never used pumpkin that was not canned OR made a pie crust from scratch.
I've always been more of a cake person and all manner of cakes, brownies, cookies I would never even consider NOT making from scratch but the pie crust has always seemed daunting and I've never even thought about using fresh pumpkin until this year.
Judy uses a different technique than what is usually done with pumpkins, as far as I can tell. Instead of cutting it and taking the seeds out before roasting, the whole pumpkin is placed in the oven (after putting slits in to keep it from exploding!) and roasted for several hours until it looks like this:
The skin and seeds/pulp come out away from the meat of the pumpkin easily then it can be set aside in a strainer over a bowl to drain off excess liquid. (if you don't do this then you could end up with a soggy pie I think...)
Then the rest can be frozen. Two pumpkins should make more than ten pies!
Here is my first one, straight from the oven!
I thought it was yummy!
S ate the filling out of one slice and left the crust but I'm trying not to take that personally. It's not hard to do considering that I think the crust tastes really yummy, especially for my first one!
And by the looks of things everyone agrees that it was a pretty good pie! (and fresh pumpkin DOES taste better!)
Tips and Recipes:
The pumpkin has to be pureed before used. If you don't it will be grainy and stringy. I just used a hand-mixer for a few minutes for putting into the pie filling and it was fine.
The pie crust needs to be pre-baked before the filing goes in. 5 minutes on 425 then 7 or so minutes on 350 did the trick. Be sure to prick holes in the bottom of the crust first to let steam escape.
Here is the pie filling recipe I used. I was drawn to it because it used vanilla ice cream instead of sweetened condensed milk.
- 3 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
- 3 eggs
- 1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 (9 inch) pie crusts
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Soften the ice cream in the microwave until it is completely melter but not bubbly. Make sure the eggs are room temperature, not cold. Whisk together the eggs. Stir in the pumpkin puree, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Mix in soft ice cream until smooth. Pour filling into two 9 inch pie shells.
- Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes, or until filling is set
Crust: Makes 2
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (I had to use more for it to be the proper consistency. Before it seemed too sticky. I also used 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour instead of 4 c. all-purpose)
- 2 cups butter flavored shortening (I don't use shortening so I used butter and it seemed fine)
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup ice water
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
- In a large bowl, mix flour, shortening, sugar and salt.
- Add ice water, vinegar and egg. Beat to combine.
- Divide dough in half, pat into a pie plate lined with parchment paper.
- Pre-bake before filling.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
My little guys have been obsessed with Halloween so it's pretty much Halloween here every day now. (except for the candy!)
This weekend was quiet: I worked on Saturday then we took the boys to go practice riding their little bikes then to run around a pet store. They love animals so much. They would love another cat or two but Lola, our 11 year old long haired kitty princess would have something to say about that! On Sunday I spent most of the day reading while S spent some alone time with the boys. ('you get them 5 days a week!') In the evening we hung out for a bit with a family in our neighborhood. They have two little girls and the boys had fun chasing them around.
In other news, I FINALLY bought myself a new bra. Not that any of you would know that I hadn't had a bra in about 3 years. Three years of holding in breastfeeding boobs haven't been kind to my bras and I finally had to admit that. I can't bring myself to throw them out but seeing them next to my brand-new bra just showed how sad they are. Before I was a mom I bought bras frequently. 'I don't have a turquoise push-up bra? Huh, well let's get one!' But these days they are strictly working bras, not for fashion or how well they match my underwear but for how comfortable they are and how well they support the girls. How things change.
*Moomies with a feisty kitty girl named Evita
*I liked this one, isn't she pretty?
*Evita captivates the boys
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Archie Arnett was born on Saturday and weighed in at 8 lbs., 1 oz., their rep Lewis Kay said in a statement.
"Amy, Will and Archie are all healthy and resting comfortably," Kay said.
During the "Weekend Update" segment of Saturday Night Live, Poehler's co-anchor Seth Meyers announced to a cheering crowd: "Amy Poehler is not here tonight because she is having a baby."
Poehler, 37, revealed in April that she and Arnett, 38, were expecting.
"I've been very lucky," Poehler told PEOPLE in July. "I’m feeling good, and I’m just overwhelmed with blessings."
Meyers recently told PEOPLE that the cast was thrilled about the baby. "We're all excited for her," said Myers. "I think she's going to be a great mom."
Besides welcoming the new member of the family, Arnett will star with Kristen Bell in the big-screen comedy When in Rome, and Poehler – who is leaving SNL this year – will return to NBC in the spring as the star of an as-yet-untitled primetime comedy.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of my dad's death. That is so strange to me. I miss him now just as much as the day I lost him. It still hasn't clicked in my brain that I will never see him again. It's always been weird to me because this time of year is so beautiful, it seems inconceivable to suffer such a great and profound loss now.
I am still in such denial that I never remember exactly which day in October it was that he died. I know it's the 20-something but I always have to look up the date. My brother posted this picture on his Myspace page so I knew it was that time again.
There are so many things I wish I could say to him. I wish he knew my sweet little boys. I wish S had have gotten the chance to meet him. My dad was the ultimate tinkerer, they would have gotten along great.
I love you, Daddy. I hope you still know that, wherever you are.
It was Burger's birthday and so I had two presents to make: a gift for him and one for Belle, his mama for her "Mamaversary" present.
I knitted her a cozy hat in red and gold and other fall colors. I used a really beautiful silk/alpaca blend together with a nylon ribbon yarn so it's cozy and stretchy. I also got to bust out the double point needles to knit the crown which always make me feel like a rockstar!
Yes, these pictures were taken in my bathroom! Hey Amber, sorry I still have your wig. I borrowed it for Halloween what, like eight years ago?
My present for Burger was a hand-appliquéd t-shirt. Appliqués are so fun and easy to make. All you need is a scrap of interesting fabric, some fabric glue and a needle and thread. A button adds interest and makes cute eyes, too.
Burger LOVES elephants so I decided to try my hand at drawing one on a piece of fabric. Drawing is not my forte but I think it looks vaguely elephant-esque, no?
It was really fun to make and it's so satisfying to come up with a handmade gift for the people in your life. I'm not knocking finding the perfect store bought gift at all, I get a retail high when I find something someone will absolutely love but I have so many supplies at home and as my craft confidence grows, so does my ability to make most of the gifts I give. I hope he likes it! (my boys picked out the shirt!)