Friday, September 30, 2011

October is for Pumpkin Cookies

Time for Pumpkin Cookies!
October may well be my favorite month. When I was a kid in Ohio, the walk home from the school bus stop at the end of my street was filled with colored leaves, the lovely, earthy smell of fall in the air, and on the best kind of day, the divine aroma of pumpkin cookies baking when I stepped into the house.

October was a favorite time in our house for the usual costume-y, candy-filled reasons, but we had an added bonus.

My mother (the saint) was born on Halloween.

Which meant October held not only bonfires and hay rides, but also a traditional pumpkin shaped cake, made in a bunt pan, with a half-banana "stem" stuck in the middle, and covered in bright orange seven-minute frosting.  I have never, ever liked seven-minute frosting, but tradition is tradition is tradition.

I imagine this was my Mom's Birthday Party - circa 1978.
Mom is lovely as usual.  And, get a load of that mustache on my dad! 


My brother & I scooping out Pumpkins for our Jack O' Lanterns,
October, 1978. I'm not going to do the math for you, but I was
5 in this picture.  I COULD have photoshopped the red out of these
pics... and, in fact, I DID give it a shot.... but I like them better this way.

On Halloween night, after we got home from Trick or Treating, Mom ALWAYS told us that we couldn't eat much candy, because we HAD to go to bed, as she had to grab her black hat, climb on her broomstick and fly to the big meeting at midnight.

We thought she was a real, honest to goodness Witch.

A GOOD Witch. But, a Witch.

Well it makes sense, doesn't it? Halloween Birthday? A love of all things Halloween-y? You see?

We were convinced.

She even has a bit of a nose.

A bit. Not a huge, pointy nose, but a bit of a nose.

She knows it. She won't mind me telling you.

Minus the witchy wart.

My mother LOVES Halloween, as one who is born on such a fun day would.

This morning, little girl and I "face-timed" with her, and Mom aimed her iPad at her vast collection of decorative witches and pumpkins for Miss M to see. She showed us a witch made from a gourd, a witch made of a shell, a beautiful hand-made crafty witch, and the witch marionette that I made her eons ago with a BRIGHT green polymer clay face and giant pink lips. It was pretty funny to see that thing again.
After we disconnected from "The Facetime", all I could think of was making Pumpkin Cookies.

So I did.

And now, you can too.




These Pumpkin Cookies are a cake-like cookie, with Oatmeal, Cinnamon and Chocolate Chips. And if you think that doesn't sound like a good idea, watch the video (below) of my Jack-the-Dog barking at the oven for his share. He didn't get one (chocolate chips). But! He DID get a dog biscuit. I'm not a bad dog-mother.

I imagine that this recipe came from the back of a Libby's Pumpkin can, but I don't know that for a fact. What I DO know for a fact, is that they are delicious.

Also: Be forewarned that this recipe makes TEN DOZEN. I freeze half of it. You can do that. Scoop them onto a cookie sheet, as if to bake, then slide them into your freezer until frozen. Once they are frozen enough to handle, put them in a freezer bag until you need to pop a few in the oven for fresh-baked cookies without all the fuss. Mmmmmmmmm.




PUMPKIN COOKIES
4 c. Flour
2 c. Oats
2 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 c. Butter or Margarine
2 c. Brown Sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Can Pumpkin (16oz)
2 (or more!) c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Mix Flour, Oats, Baking Soda, Cinnamon and Salt in a large bowl and set aside.

Cream Butter, Brown Sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the Egg and Vanilla to the creamed mixture and beat well.

Alternate adding the canned Pumpkin and Dry Ingredients to the Creamed mixture.

Stir in the Chocolate Chips.

Drop by Tablespoonfuls (I use a cookie scoop) onto lightly greased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 20-25 minutes.


Immediately ride the school bus home and grab a few with a glass of milk.

Or just lay down in front of the oven and BARK until Momma gives you one.









Freeze the extras!


video
(You need Flash to see the video of Jack Barking for his cookies)


BARK until you get one!



OH!  I'm also doing something I saw on Pinterest with Plastic Snakes, a Grapevine Wreath and some Black Spray Paint.  Stay Tuned....


I LOVE HALLOWEEN!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goodnight, Sweet Prince.

Zoe (Left) and Cosmo (Right)


15 years ago, my husband and I came across a small Mom & Pop pet store that was going out of business. We'd just moved to Southern California, had our first apartment together, and erhm, in fact, weren't actually married yet. The wedding was a year away.

M had worked at a fish store while a high school student in Florida, so one of the first things we did in California was set up a fish tank. One night, we noticed a big "Store Closing, 50% Off" banner posted in the window of the pet store, and we thought we'd go in and see what kind of fish we might add to our tank.

I think we spent a grand total of 47 seconds in the store before we both spied a bonded pair of Green Cheeked Conures sitting forlornly in a cage, looking as if the world was ending. We asked the owners what would happen to the birds when the store closed, and they admitted that they would probably be split up, if they couldn't find a home for them as a pair.

Well.

We just couldn't let THAT happen.

Suffice to say that we forked over the half-price cost for the birds, a cage and necessary birdie accoutrements on the spot. Two for one. No brainer. They could stay together.

Of course, at the time, we had NO idea how much fun they would be, what a complete pain in the a$$ it would be to take care of them, and we had not a clue as to how old they were, what sex they might be (mother and son? Brother and sister? Clueless). This particular type of bird is has no differing sexual characteristics, so the only way to tell was to have them sexed by DNA.

We never did that.

In time, we decided that one of them was a girl (possibly the mother?). Zoë has a penchant for nagging and bosses the other one around like crazy. Boss Bird. The other bird eventually claimed the name "Cosmo J. Bird", although the long-standing joke is that "no one knows what the 'J' stands for". Not even Cosmo.

Cosmo immediately claimed all sets of keys as his own, hoarding them in his cage, climbed up to the top of the dish drainer in the sink to get to my stack of to-be-recycled Coke cans, grabbed the pop-tops in his beak and tossed them all over the kitchen like the Sumo Wrestler he is.

Er, rather, was.

Cosmo J. Bird died this morning.

And I can't believe how absolutely sad I am.

The night before last, I heard a "thunk" from the birdcage after I'd gone to bed. It was then that I realized that I'd meant to give them fresh water before I went to bed, and hadn't. So, I got up to check on the birds, and give them water, and I see my Moey on the bottom of the cage, one foot curled up and having problems standing. He'd obviously fallen from his perch.

I immediately opened the cage and got him out, holding him against my neck as he liked, while he slowly gathered strength back to his foot. By the time I put him back in his cage, just a few minutes later, he was grabbing onto my fingers with both feet, no problem. I decided that maybe his foot had just fallen asleep, and went back to bed.

Not.so.

The next morning, he was not exactly right, but not exactly awful, either. By bedtime, though, he was wearing down and I realized that if he couldn't stand or climb, he couldn't get to the food or water dishes, so I hand fed him some banana and syringed some water into his beak. I went to bed last night dreading what I might find in the morning, and hoping that if it was his time, that he could just go quietly and peacefully.

This morning, I found him still on his perch, but very much worse. He couldn't seem to move his left leg, and his right leg was also failing to a degree. I picked him up, allowing him to bite my finger so he could get into my hand, since he couldn't lift his feet very well, OW, and we spent about and hour this morning in the recliner with Moey snuggled against my neck. Seemed the only thing he could do, or the only place he wanted to be.

I put him down a few times, to get coffee, to get dressed, in a box he couldn't climb out of, lined with an old soft fleece blanket of my son's. When I put him down , he would just... Flail. Wings stretched out, couldn't stand, couldn't fly, couldn't walk... Just... Flail.

It was Heartbreaking.

M took the kids to school, and by the time he got back, it was clear that we needed the sort of advice only a vet can give.

I knew he was dying... Knew I couldn't do anything for him... And I couldn't stand to see him like that, but also couldn't bring myself to smother him or whatever else I might do to end his suffering.

So we went to the vet.

Sigh.

At least I got to hold him as he went to sleep, and then as he went to the great birdie beyond. I whispered to him. We told him he was a good bird. We told him we loved him. We told him there would be a sky full of hemp seeds to eat and coke cans to toss to his heart's content. Keys to be hoarded. We asked one more time what the 'J' stood for. We will never know.

And then M and I cried our eyes out.

Over a little bird.

Over a two-for-the-price-of-one Green Cheeked Conure.

Over the first living thing we'd ever had together. Not a child, exactly, but 15 years of laughter and bird antics, of and biting and terrorizing our visitors.

15 years of love and friendship.

15 years.

While M dug a hole for him in the bird and butterfly garden, I crocheted a lil blue birdie blanket for him as fast as my hands could go. It was the least I could do for my soft, sweet boy.

After the burial, I held Miss Zoë, wondering what life would be like for her without him. I remembered seeing little stuffed birds for single birds to snuggle against in the bird stores, so I spent the afternoon patterning a little bird, cutting it out of the same blanket that we brought Cosmo home in, and sewing and stuffing a little "friend" for Zoë to cuddle with. I have no clue of she'll ever accept it (she's always been slow to adapt new toys and things), but if she ever needs it, it will be there.

But my Moey... Moey is gone. And I'm so sad.

The hell of it is.... I've one 13 year old dog diagnosed with lymphoma, one 9 year old dog suffering from arthritis or hip dysplasia so badly that he struggles just to stand, and Miss Zoë herself, has had her little birdie skull stitched back together by a talented bird surgeon after she was accidentally stepped upon by yours truly 11 years ago.

Who would have thought that it would be my sweet Moey's turn first?

Good night, Cosmo J.

Momma loves you.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Wizard of Oz and Rainbow Blankets


My little girl, who is in LOVE with the old Tom & Jerry cartoons recently saw a new (?) Tom & Jerry TV movie, which was not just LOOSELY based on The Wizard of Oz, it totally WAS The Wizard of Oz, with all the original music (minus 'Over the Rainbow'... too expensive to licence, I'm sure). 

It was Terrible.  You'll note the capital "T".

I could NOT allow that to stand in her memory as THE "Wizard of Oz", so I quickly remedied the situation with our own Blu-Ray copy of the 70th Anniversary restored Release.

Phew. That was a close one.

She was soon signing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" with the best of them, and I couldn't be prouder. 

I'm a big fan of WOO from waaaaaay back.  I even read all the original books as a kid.  Several times. 

Although, even then, I understood that there was something wrong with the way Baum characterized the "Hottentots", though, so I won't actually be encouraging my kids to read it.  He was a bit of a Jerk, actually.  Yeah.  So there's that. 


With "Over the Rainbow" ringing in our ears, and a recent request that I make her a blanket.... well.... you can see what happened next:



It's a Rainbow Blanket!


Milla Loves it. 

I used this pattern, but only as a template...

There are 9 colors in this one, and the pattern/repeat goes like this: 

Three rows of each color (dc)
Two rows of each color (dc)
One row of each color (dc)
Two rows of each color (dc)

I was going to do another repeat of the 3 rows of each color, but we decided it was already big enough, and in the end, I kind of like that it ISN'T perfectly symmetrical.

Took me a little over a week and a half to finish, and I've probably sat through The Wizard of Oz 127 times all told.  No, I'm not exaggerating.   

OK.  Maybe a just a little. 




And now, if you'll excuse me...

I have to go and make a Dorothy Halloween Costume.  Size 4. 

And maybe one in my size, too....


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Kitchen Makeover: FINISHED!

I can has Kitchen?


I can?!?  I CAN!!!


Wanna see??


Okokok, but first I have to tell you that I haven't sewn the new Roman Blinds for the window over the sink yet.  And, I'm also planning on re-painting what's left of the green walls with... well.... a different green.  This shade isn't BAD, but there's another green in the house that would be just perfect.


But I couldn't wait any longer to post the After pics (in case you've forgotten, here's what it looked like before...).


Here it is.


FINISHED!  I'm so outrageously HAPPY!

I'd also like to note that I designed this myself.  There were giant
moments of doubt and berating of the self over second guesses about
tile selection, cabinet color, etc, etc... but in the end, I was so right.  Yay, me!


Yeah, the towel's a little wonky in this shot, but as usual, I was actually in the
middle of making dinner...  This is what you'd call a "working kitchen".  Truly.

I'm SO glad I decided to tile this entire wall... mmmmhhhmmm.....  what's
crazy is that I seem to have more counter space, even though the footprint
is exactly the same.  The old tile counter top curved up a bit before it went
over the edge, which I suppose was intended to keep things from

rolling/spilling onto the floor, but in reality just cut counter space by
about 4 inches all the way around.  Doesn't sound like much, but I
couldn't fit a normal sized toaster next to the toaster oven on one of the
counter tops.  And, yes I need both.  I do.

Biggest problem with my kitchen now is that I need to find a new paper
towel holder.  Red doesn't work here anymore.  Had to buy new rugs this
afternoon, too.  Being me is SO HARD.

Of course, I left the butterflies on the the KitchenAid Mixer.  And I do kinda
miss the ones that used to be flying up the nasty old cabinets, but I'll get used

to it.  I think.  Yes, I made that bowl on the counter.  And that funny
looking plastic covered bowl with the yellow bottom?  Tomatoes in a goofy
container that my husband couldn't resist at Sprouts this afternoon.
Ummm... hello?  I have like, FIVE tomato plants on the patio?  Oh, geez....


Inaugural Kitchen Meal:  Soy Glazed Grilled Salmon, Cucumber/Tomato
Salad, Fresh Corn on the Cob and sliced Pears.  It was simple and completely
yummy.  And I don't even like Salmon.  Much.

Mr. Whatshisname approves.
After dinner, I told my husband that he could clean up so that he got a chance the enjoy the new kitchen, too.  HAHAHAHA!


Totally worked.


Who's coming to Dinner???


/Julianna

Pebbles and High Surf in Carlsbad

Yesterday, at 4:00 pm, my husband mentioned that the surf was up
with waves at 6-8 feet with occasional swells to 11 feet.
Something to do with a storm in New Zealand. 


That's pretty far away, man.

That sounded like something to go and see.  So we did.

And I took pebbles with me, naturally.




Pebble Number One! Already signed in from Denali on the Guestbook!  
Thank you, Denali!




She writes, "...I didn't know what it was so I asked my mom to come
look at it. I couldn't tell what it was but I picked it up anyway. Then
I realized what it was, a pebble wearing a sweater! Haha, well
anyway thank you so much! I think this is an awesome project!..."


Well, gee-whiz.  I think Denali's pretty awesome for logging it in.


On to Pebble Number Two!  And, , would you believe it has ALSO been
logged in??

After having no better than a 1 in 7 chance in guestbook sign-ins,

yesterday, I was TWO FOR TWO!

 I'm seriously speechless!

Who says it has to be sunny for it to be a good day pebbling?

Leslye says, "...Down in Carlsbad for the weekend. My daughter Abby (11)
loves rocks and found her curious pebble. Needless to say she was beyond excited!
What a cute and creative idea!!!"

Thank you, Leslye and Abby!  I love rocks, too... 



Big waves bring in the big seaweed... and while I'm not really fond
of swimming in a salad, it sure looked lovely on the beach last night.




SO.


A gigantic THANK YOU to Denali and Leslye for taking the time to sign these in... You absolutely made my day!  Enjoy your pebbles!


See you on the beach!


/Julianna