Wednesday, October 28, 2009

signs of the times

I'm pretty sure that autumn gets me in the baking/creating mood more than any other season. Christmastime may be a close second. The freshness in the air and cool temperatures fill me into a homemaking frenzy every year. Here are a few of the things we've done this season that just ooze fall/Halloween.

I've mentioned before that squash is basically my favorite food ever. I could eat it for every meal. I was so excited to try a recipe for squash soup, and let me tell you, this one did not disappoint. Aside from peeling/gutting/dicing the squash, it was simple to make. And the homemade gruyere croutons? To die for. (Though I did use swiss instead of gruyere-- just couldn't bring myself to spend 21.99/lb. for cheese.) Recipe found here. (Don't have a picture of the finished (blended) product, but this is while it was getting all soft and delicious.)

Oh the joy of fresh apples from trees. Almost nothing is more autumn-y, right? This batch came from a neighbor's tree, and I baked up a new (to me) recipe for apple crisp that turned out really, really yummy. Recipe here. (Again, this is not the finished product. Can you imagine an apple crisp without the crisp? No, of course not. This was just when the apples were getting all juicy with the cinnamon, flour, and sugar.)

My mom gifted me a few old Family Fun magazines that had some ideas for Halloween crafts that I loved. I always get ambitious with plans to create up a storm for holidays, but my follow-through sometimes is lacking. This year I was pleased because I have completed each project on my list. Here are two of them:

For family home evening one night we went out and found a bunch of rocks and then painted them orange. The next day I drew on the faces with permanent marker, glued on some sticks for stems, and voila! A happy little pumpkin family for your mantle (or in my case, bookshelf).

This was my favorite idea initially, but I have to say that the finished product doesn't thrill me quite as much as I thought it would. Perhaps because the fruit peels that are the facial features are continuing to curl as they dry out more (even though I dehydrated them in the oven and left them out overnight at the beginning), and they don't stick to the squash/pumpkins as well as I would like. But they are a pretty cute little trio when their parts are all on, and Baby G LOVES them (which perhaps accounts for some of the features falling off), so I am glad I took the time to make them. The green pumpkin that I used for the witch was the single offering from the enormous pumpkin plant that overtook my front flower bed (ironically enough, this was a random plant that sprouted all by itself (perhaps from a stray jack-o-lantern seed from last year?), and the pumpkin plant that we planted on purpose in the backyard failed to produce anything but pokey leaves).

This wasn't something I created, but it is fallish, so it counts. We love going to Oktoberfest every year and eating all the yummy German food. This year Baby G got his face painted like a pirate and he loved it so much. Please take note of his little bent finger acting as his pirate hook.

I first saw this idea months ago here. I filed it away in my brain to make when Halloween was near, and this past Sunday my mom came over and helped me whip up many dozen of these darling little ghosts.

I wrapped them up, added a fun tag (got the idea from the same blog), tied it with pretty ribbon, and then we went and delivered them to neighbors last night. Baby G really wanted to eat one while we were out and about, but I told them those ones were just for our friends and neighbors. "But I'm a friend and neighbor, Mama," he insisted. We played up the idea of how good it makes you feel to give treats to your friends instead of keeping them for yourself, and after the first two houses Baby G enthusiastically asked, "Can I give a cookie to EVERYONE?"

We were at Williams-Sonoma on Monday. Baby G spotted this frankenstein spatula and fell in love. Since we were with a grandma (my mom), of course it was purchased for him, much to his delight. It has quickly become his favorite thing. He sleeps with it and we have cooked pancakes and eggs for the last two nights just so he can help us "flick" them over. I don't think I would've thought we would've gotten our money's worth out of a spatula for him, but we totally already have.

And lastly, two little stories that you could kind of twist to make Halloween related.

Baby G has a Halloween shirt with a big bat on it that he has been wearing. A few weeks ago he asked to sleep in it. After he was in bed for about an hour he started crying. I went in to see what was wrong and he couldn't stop talking about how scary the bats were. I tried to console him, telling him that bats were nice and wouldn't hurt him, but he protested with tears and, "Bats are NOT friendly, Mama!" I tried to get him to take off his bat shirt so he'd forget about it, but he wouldn't. Anyway, he finally fell asleep and that was the end of it. The next day we were at Costco with my mom. Baby G was standing up in the basket part of the cart and was a little wobbly. My mom said to him, "You are scaring me, G," because of his unsteadiness. He gave her a puzzled look and replied, "I'm not a bat, NeNe!" I cracked up because it was so funny to me to see how his brain was working-- clearly if something is scary is must be a bat.

Last night Baby G woke up in the wee hours crying (this doesn't happen that often, I swear). I went in to hear him sobbing about the bugs that were stinging him. It was evident that he was having a scary dream about bugs, and he was insisting a gray and black spider had come in his crib and was in his shirt. I felt all around in his shirt and promised him the spider was gone. "The spider left?" he asked. "Yes, it's all gone." He sweetly and enthusiastically cheered, "Yaaayyyy!" and then immediately plopped back down in bed. Before I left he requested that I sing "I am a Child of God" to him, which I of course did. I had been back in my room for 20 seconds when I hear him calling out something to me. I go back in his room and he is saying what sounds like, "Up here. Up here." I thought maybe he wanted his blankets up higher on him or something, but he said, "No, Up here! Up here." Then it clicked. He was actually saying, "A prayer! A prayer!" I said, "Oh, you want me to say a prayer?" "Uh huh," he replied. I said a prayer and then went back to my bed smiling. I love LOVE that when he was scared and having a hard night the two things he wanted were "I am a Child of God" and a prayer. Oh to have the faith of a child!


Mama Janet said...

How fun and cute are those cookies and festive things? We've had a good Autum to enjoy. I can't wait to see my hymn singing golfer this weekend.

Jill said...

I loved everything about this post. It just made me happy. :) Happy Halloween to you!

Heather said...

I love this! I loved the bat incident! I'm going to have to do those ghosts sometime & now I have to make apple crisp too! Miss ya. Heath

Kimmie said...

This post is awesome! I love fall/Halloween too! I love to bake and cook but I clearly have a long ways to go after reading this. George is such a cutie. I love the picture of him cooking with the spatula. How fun!