100 Days

 

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Somehow in the mess of the world, I lost sight of the fact that IT’S OCTOBER.

And you know what that means??????

100 days of Holidays has officially begun!

We have red trees and orange trees and yellow trees and yes, that is SUPER early for us, but everyone is saying the 30 days of Smoke (which is quickly becoming another part of the Oregon social calendar) is to blame.

I’ll take it. The skies are blue and the clouds are fluffy and white and the smokey days of August seem so far away.

I am not coming at you with Halloween decor, or recipes for 10,000 things to do with an apple.

I’m going to start you off gently.

  1. It’s time to ask your kids what they want to be for Halloween. It is. I’m sorry.
  2. Go to this website and order the world’s greatest coffee: http://www.doorcountycoffee.com. I recommend Wisconsin Harvest and a BIG 5 LB BAG of Door County Christmas.

That’s it, friends. Two things. Ease into the crazy.

I’ll be back later with the stuff about the apples. In the meantime:

26 days til Halloween

48 days til Thanksgiving

81 days til Christmas.

 

Welcome Autumn 2015!

While I am nervously watching the trees in our town, praying the leaves don’t change and fall before my parents arrive in three weeks, I know my family and friends in So Cal are still knee deep in the 90s.

Autumn—such as it is in So Cal—is coming, I promise. And I’m not being snarky. I’m bitter. We’re paying good money for a pool membership that extends to September 30—never mind that we haven’t been able to swim since the last day of August.

So revel in your September swim parties and beach days. Come March I’ll be pricing flights south and cursing my boots, and you’ll already be in flip-flops.

In the meantime, enjoy this recipe for Kitchen Witch’s Pumpkin Bread (originally posted in 2013)

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Well, it’s official.  Autumn is finally here!  And no, I don’t mean just the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks (although that is quickly becoming one of my favorite things of autumn!).

I’ve always loved autumn, and when I moved to Austria, I fell in love with it even more.  The changing of the seasons is visible everywhere there. The local restaurants begin to change their menus to represent the seasonal fare.  My favorite restaurant in our town had something called Wild Woche or Wild Week in which they slow-roasted venison, wild boar, wild hare, all of which had been caught in our forest, and served them up in wonderful, hearty sauces, with earthy root vegetables, all meant to fatten the townspeople up, steeling us against the harsh winter that was sure to come.

But more than the beautiful colors, the comfort food, the inviting scents, there’s just something different in the air once autumn comes.  I’ve always felt it, that magic electricity.  It’s like in Mary Poppins when Burt sings “Winds in the East, mist comin’ in, like somethin’ is brewin’, about to begin!”

This past Sunday was the Autumnal Equinox, a time of equal light and equal darkness.  The balance has tipped and we descend into darkness.  This happens not only literally as the nights are now longer than the days, but for many people, it happens in a spiritual sense as well.

The bright warm days of summer, which beckon us outdoors to the beach, the mountains, or even just the backyard, are over.  As the temperatures cool, we turn our focus inside, many of us decorating for fall and burning pumpkin-scented candles.  Our tendency, when things get dark, it to turn on more light, to fill our already busy schedules with even more things.

But I invite you this autumn to take some time in the darkness, to sit quietly with your soul and take stock of what you have done this year.  How have you grown?  What seeds did you sow in the spring and tend in the summer that are now coming to harvest?  How can you prepare yourself for the craziness that the holiday season can bring on?

Pull out your favorite snuggly sweater or blanket.  Get some pumpkins to put on your front porch.  Put some gourds on your mantle.  Make some of your favorite comfort foods.  And if you want a new favorite fall recipe, I’m sharing my very best one with you, A Kitchen Witch’s Pumpkin Spice Bread.  And have a glorious autumn, everyone!

A Kitchen Witch’s Pumpkin Spice Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups pureed pumpkin (fresh roasted or canned)

3 cups sugar

1 cup water

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

3 1/3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¾ teaspoon ground cloves

Instructions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, water, vegetable oil, and eggs.  Beat until well mixed.  Measure flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and ground cloves into a separate bowl, and stir until combined.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, beating until smooth.

Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans and dust with flour.  Evenly divide the batter between the two pans.  Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool 10-15 minutes then remove from pans by inverting them onto a rack and tapping the bottoms.  Slice and serve plain, buttered, or with cream cheese.

The Thing About Cranberries

She insisted on having an uncooked cranberry. Actually, she wanted a whole bowl of them.

I warned her that they were yucky. But she was determined and since I’m a Live and Learn Mom (a LALM, can we coin that? As in “Be a LALM and Carry On”???), I shrugged and said “Ok, but let me get my phone.”

This has happened with all three of my children, plus Shea, Teresa and Lesley. It’s my own personal psych experiment: If I tell you something tastes yucky, will that over-ride the voice in your head screaming “IT’S A SMALL RED AND SHINY BERRY!!! EAT IT, EAT IT, EAT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Turns out the answer is no.

Every. Single. Time.

A little late for Thanksgiving, but just in time for Advent dinners, office parties, neighborhood potlucks and Christmas, here are our favorite cranberry recipes.

Not Your Mama’s Sauce (apricot cranberry sauce and cranberry mustard)

 

 

BOO!

Annie, ready to BOO!

Annie, ready to BOO!

Something about this time of year lends itself to skulking in the shadows and making mischief. And I come from a long line of folks who do their best work at night.

We like things that go bump in the night. We like mystery and intrigue and we like to surprise and be surprised.

So the first time we got Boo’d, I knew this was a tradition we were going to make all our own.

If your neighborhood doesn’t Boo, fear not. You can get the party started.

All you have to do is this: get a bucket (or two or three or five); fill it with candies and fun treats from the dollar section at Target or your favorite dollar store. It doesn’t have to be much. I spent $20 and did five buckets. Michael’s has plastic jack-o-lantern buckets for $1.04.

Go to this website and print out the sign and the instructions: www.boobaskets.com. Place them in the bucket. Then put on your running shoes, wait for darkness and sneak up to your friend’s and neighbor’s doors, drop the basket, ring the doorbell for all it’s worth and run for your life.

Over the last five years, we have perfected our Boo’ing. While some people ring and run, we are a ring and hide family, piled up behind bushes and cars (and Sunday night, the very skinny Edison power box in the front yard) to listen as people discover our buckets. Then we sneak back down the street or to the car, giggling with glee.

You can see why we don’t just do one. It’s too much stinking fun.

Our hope is that our Boo-ees become Boo-ers, and spread the mischievous love. Sometimes we get Boo’d back and sometimes we don’t. But I am proud to tell you that my kids don’t care. For them, the fun is in the Boo-ing!

Logistics: The instructions tell the Boo-ee that they’ve been tagged and invite them to Boo someone else. They hang the “We’ve been boo’d!” sign in their front window so they don’t get boo’d again. Then they assemble their own basket(s) and pass it on. I’ve heard of neighborhoods where this spreads like wildfire. But even if it doesn’t, I guarantee that you will bring some loving fun into the nights of your boo-ees.

PS: We were boo-ed by Amy and her girls in return. Except they came in the daylight and got caught by my girls and my dogs before they got to the front door. We all ended up laughing in the front yard while Gabe provided a quick seminar on proper boo-ing technique.

 

 

Reblog: Welcome Autumn! ~ Dana

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Last year I shared my recipe for A Kitchen Witch’s Pumpkin Spice Bread and today, since I’m up to my elbows in cowgirl costume sewing and SAT essay scoring, I’m sharing it with you again.  Like many of you, Autumn is my favorite season, and I cannot wait for some cooler temperatures here in Southern California.  Those of you who are feeling fall already, enjoy it for me!  

Look out folks.  In just one short week, Autumn will finally be here!  And no, I don’t mean just the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks (although that is quickly becoming one of my favorite things of autumn!).

I’ve always loved autumn, and when I moved to Austria, I fell in love with it even more.  The changing of the seasons is visible everywhere there. The local restaurants begin to change their menus to represent the seasonal fare.  My favorite restaurant in our town had something called Wild Woche or Wild Week in which they slow-roasted venison, wild boar, wild hare, all of which had been caught in our forest, and served them up in wonderful, hearty sauces, with earthy root vegetables, all meant to fatten the townspeople up, steeling us against the harsh winter that was sure to come.

But more than the beautiful colors, the comfort food, the inviting scents, there’s just something different in the air once autumn comes.  I’ve always felt it, that magic electricity.  It’s like in Mary Poppins when Burt sings “Winds in the East, mist comin’ in, like somethin’ is brewin’, about to begin!”

The 22nd of September is the Autumnal Equinox, a time of equal light and equal darkness.  The balance has tipped and we descend into darkness.  This happens not only literally as the nights are now longer than the days, but for many people, it happens in a spiritual sense as well.

The bright warm days of summer, which beckon us outdoors to the beach, the mountains, or even just the backyard, are over.  As the temperatures cool, we turn our focus inside, many of us decorating for fall and burning pumpkin-scented candles.  Our tendency, when things get dark, it to turn on more light, to fill our already busy schedules with even more things.

But I invite you this autumn to take some time in the darkness, to sit quietly with your soul and take stock of what you have done this year.  How have you grown?  What seeds did you sow in the spring and tend in the summer that are now coming to harvest?  How can you prepare yourself for the craziness that the holiday season can bring on?

Pull out your favorite snuggly sweater or blanket.  Get some pumpkins to put on your front porch.  Put some gourds on your mantle.  Make some of your favorite comfort foods.  And if you want a new favorite fall recipe, I’m sharing my very best one with you, A Kitchen Witch’s Pumpkin Spice Bread.  And have a glorious autumn, everyone!

A Kitchen Witch’s Pumpkin Spice Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups pureed pumpkin (fresh roasted or canned)

3 cups sugar

1 cup water

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

3 1/3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¾ teaspoon ground cloves

Instructions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, water, vegetable oil, and eggs.  Beat until well mixed.  Measure flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and ground cloves into a separate bowl, and stir until combined.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, beating until smooth.

Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans and dust with flour.  Evenly divide the batter between the two pans.  Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool 10-15 minutes then remove from pans by inverting them onto a rack and tapping the bottoms.  Slice and serve plain, buttered, or with cream cheese.

Autumn, Disney-style ~ Dana

You all know that we love autumn, and we love Disneyland, so I had this wonderful idea to show you how awesome Disneyland looks this time of year. They have all sorts of great events going on, the biggest of which is Mickey’s Halloween Party, which we attended, of course. And I wanted to get all these lovely pictures of the girls in their costumes, of the giant ghost Mickeys that light up the party after dark, of the cast members who called Mazie, who was dressed as Princess Jasmine, “your highness” all night long. But alas, with two kids up well past their bedtimes, I came home with only a few fuzzy shots.

But I am committed to you, dear readers! And so I ventured back to the park. With the two girls. By myself. And although there were some pictures that I just didn’t get, I hope you enjoy the ones that I did.

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The entrance plaza and Main Street are decorated to the hilt with fall-colored bunting, gorgeous leaves, and lots and lots of carved pumpkins.

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Frontierland always has a country fall festival mood with a super cute little spot for pictures.

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Frontierland is also home to the Dia De Los Muertos celebration, which is new the past couple of years.  Mazie loved the face painting!

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And of course, the Haunted Mansion is decked out in all of it’s Nightmare Before Christmas splendor.  It’s hard to believe that this year is the 13th anniversary of the transformation, which stays from autumn until Christmastime.   I would have loved to get more shots of this amazing display, but the neither the kids, nor their mommy, were interested in waiting over an hour for it.  But it’s so neat, even from outside of the gates.

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And my new favorite Halloween decorations are the singing busts from the Mansion, which look just lovely adorning my new Halloween Tree!

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The girls were so good for these couple of hours, so I rewarded Mazie with a much-deserved spin on It’s A Small World.

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And home again… in matching Halloween jammies.  We are SO INTO THIS SEASON!

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We hope you are enjoying your autumn, too!

Welcome Autumn! ~ Dana

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Well, it’s official.  Autumn is finally here!  And no, I don’t mean just the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks (although that is quickly becoming one of my favorite things of autumn!).

I’ve always loved autumn, and when I moved to Austria, I fell in love with it even more.  The changing of the seasons is visible everywhere there. The local restaurants begin to change their menus to represent the seasonal fare.  My favorite restaurant in our town had something called Wild Woche or Wild Week in which they slow-roasted venison, wild boar, wild hare, all of which had been caught in our forest, and served them up in wonderful, hearty sauces, with earthy root vegetables, all meant to fatten the townspeople up, steeling us against the harsh winter that was sure to come.

But more than the beautiful colors, the comfort food, the inviting scents, there’s just something different in the air once autumn comes.  I’ve always felt it, that magic electricity.  It’s like in Mary Poppins when Burt sings “Winds in the East, mist comin’ in, like somethin’ is brewin’, about to begin!”

This past Sunday was the Autumnal Equinox, a time of equal light and equal darkness.  The balance has tipped and we descend into darkness.  This happens not only literally as the nights are now longer than the days, but for many people, it happens in a spiritual sense as well.

The bright warm days of summer, which beckon us outdoors to the beach, the mountains, or even just the backyard, are over.  As the temperatures cool, we turn our focus inside, many of us decorating for fall and burning pumpkin-scented candles.  Our tendency, when things get dark, it to turn on more light, to fill our already busy schedules with even more things.

But I invite you this autumn to take some time in the darkness, to sit quietly with your soul and take stock of what you have done this year.  How have you grown?  What seeds did you sow in the spring and tend in the summer that are now coming to harvest?  How can you prepare yourself for the craziness that the holiday season can bring on?

Pull out your favorite snuggly sweater or blanket.  Get some pumpkins to put on your front porch.  Put some gourds on your mantle.  Make some of your favorite comfort foods.  And if you want a new favorite fall recipe, I’m sharing my very best one with you, A Kitchen Witch’s Pumpkin Spice Bread.  And have a glorious autumn, everyone!

A Kitchen Witch’s Pumpkin Spice Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups pureed pumpkin (fresh roasted or canned)

3 cups sugar

1 cup water

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

3 1/3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¾ teaspoon ground cloves

Instructions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, water, vegetable oil, and eggs.  Beat until well mixed.  Measure flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and ground cloves into a separate bowl, and stir until combined.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, beating until smooth.

Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans and dust with flour.  Evenly divide the batter between the two pans.  Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool 10-15 minutes then remove from pans by inverting them onto a rack and tapping the bottoms.  Slice and serve plain, buttered, or with cream cheese.