Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! My Grandmother the Witch

Good morning and a Happy Halloween to you! Do you have your candy ready for the trick or treaters'? I do and hope that I get more than one or two. 

Image the Graphics Fairy

I was thinking after yesterdays post it is ironic that although I am not a fan of Halloween as I young child I grew up believing that my grandmother was a witch. Not the green faced, mean witch from the Wizard of Oz but a friendly witch. I actually wrote about it HERE the first year I started this blog, as I didn't have many readers then I thought I would re-post it today.

My Grandmother the Witch

I've lived a magical life and I am lucky because I have always been surrounded by love, imagination, colorful story tellers and taught to believe.

Image from The Graphics Fairy

From the time I was a small child my grandfather wove tales of our heritage to amuse as well teach us. In addition to my relatives, Hocus Pocus Johnny Mocus, the alligators in the basement that guarded the barrels of money and the shark that bit off the tip of his finger, my grandfather loved to share tales about my grandmother who was a "witch" and lived in a beautiful tower.

via Martha Stewart

 He claimed that after we went to bed, she took her long black hair down, hopped on her broom and rode off  to see the city and perhaps to visit her friends before going to sleep in her tower castle and then coming back by morning to see us.

Image from Wicked Faerie Queen

He often took us driving by her beautiful tower and when we asked if we could go in the answer was always no, you could only go in at night and the only way in was to fly on your broom to the top window.

via Pine Cones and Acorns

Being of a young, fertile mind I thought perhaps the story was true because after all, my grandmother did have long, black hair ( most witches do), it reached her rear end, and she always wore it in a bun, she also always took it down at night and would brush it, 100 strokes to keep it soft.  In addition, she did a lot of sweeping with a really cool broom ( witches have these too), and sometimes when she wasn't looking we would take it outside to the garden to see if we could get it to work.

Then, there was her tower which was perched on a hill, overlooking the beautiful Lake Michigan and surrounded by beautiful houses and a park, clearly visible for all of Milwaukee to see, even those far out to sea. 

Visible for all all to see, even the ships out to sea!

My grandfather would drive us by the magical tower and although we could see the beautiful windows and the architecture there was no door that I could ever find.

I dreamed of visiting her here!

 Most importantly, every time we asked her if she was a witch, and I can tell you there were many times, she just smiled and said we should "believe in things we cannot see."

I never really had reason to doubt these stories because I did often see my grandfather come out of the basement, from a room we were never allowed  into, and he always came out with a box of money, which he gave us a quarter from every Friday to go the penny candy store (dating myself a days that doesn't get you much). He did take us to meet Hocus Pocus Johnny Mocus, a distant relative who gave us candy and soda and was a magical man. And my grandfather was missing the tip of his index finger. Clearly evidence to a small child and her siblings to believe any and all tales.

Image Graphics Fairy

I also had other reasons to believe, my grandmother was from a family of 13 children, and she had 10 children herself, from a stock of hard working, land owning, German, Catholics. She was magical, because whenever you were with her she made you feel like the most important person in the world and she made you feel loved. She was a hard worker, industrious, intelligent and she loved to read, which is a magical gift that she passed on to me. 

 She worked magic in the kitchen and would whip up delectable treats, Cinnamon buns, Christmas cookies, cakes, and tasty morsels for family and friends, and often she let her little apprentices stand side by side with her, rolling dough and frosting cookies. Even when times were tough, she always used her magic and faith to find ways to feed her children and to make sure they had a wonderful life.

My grandmothers "slab apple pie"

 She instilled in us the value of family, the importance of love, and a zest and joy for life. She also taught us about the magic of tradition and to always be there for one another and the fact that there is "no place like home."

 I believe and think that is the most magical of beliefs. So my guess is that if she was a witch she was the best kind there is...a Good Witch.

I think of her often and miss her all the time but mostly when I see her tower which I visit each time I am in Milwaukee. I stand there and imagine her up high with her friends sharing a cocoa and a cinnamon bun looking down and smiling at me.

Image Pine Cones and Acorns

Happy Halloween!
 Be safe and Enjoy! I hope you do not eat too much candy and tasty treats!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Thoughts

Good morning, I have a confession to make, I do not like Halloween. 

Halloween Witch Image Martha Stewart

OK, maybe I do not dislike the entire holiday, just the crazy scary stuff. What can I say, the stuff creeps me out. Always has always will. 

Black Widow Martha Stewart

Honestly why does everything have to be creepy zombies, vampires, weird monsters and all around nightmare inducing creatures and things? I do realize it is All Hallows Eve, and the Feast of the Dead...

Cute Chick from Martha Stewart

but, can't we balance it out with a few cute things to offset the ugly? A few Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, pumpkins and pups, throw in a chicken or a cheerleader and I would be happy.

Candy Bar Martha Stewart

I love the carved pumpkins, 

Image Martha Stewart

candy apples and giving out candy but the skeletons, ghosts and all the rest I can happily do without. 

What about you? Are you a fan of the creepy crawly, scary Halloween or do you prefer something a little less chill inducing?

Will you be handing out candy in a zombie outfit with fog and ominous music in the background? I will have my carved pumpkin lit with a candle, a big bowl of treats, pup at my side waiting not for the "Great Pumpkin" but for some cute smiling faces experiencing the fun for the first time. 

Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Trick or Treat: Candy Bar or Candy Corns?

Count down to Trick or Treat. In three short days the little ones will be out in their cute, or sometimes creepy costumes collecting candy. 

I was curious will you be handing out candy? Taking the kids out to get candy or will you be patiently waiting at home to eat the candy?

Curious minds also want to know what is your favorite candy? Do you like candy bars? What is your favorite kind? Do you prefer candy corns or Indian corn? Or is there something else that you crave on Halloween?

Apparently the number 1 candy bar everyone wants to find in their bag is Snickers. Full size preferred over fun size I am sure. 

I am not really a fan of candy bars, although I will eat a Reese's pumpkin or two if they are laying around. I find myself reaching for the candy corns and Indian corn. 

I will be home handing out candy on Halloween. I think the kids are so cute and funny and I am always amazed at the creativity of some of the costumes that I see. 

As I do not have any little ones going out to collect candy I will luckily not find myself with a bag of temptation sitting on the counter the next morning. But unless I get more trick or treaters' this year than last, I will end up with about 10 pounds of peanut butter cups. 

I guess the good news is that when I get tired of pumpkin recipes I can think of things to make with them.

Do you have any recipes for left over Halloween candy? If so please share them. 

Have a great day!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting

Good morning! Can you believe that this week is Halloween, the beginning of November and daylight savings? Whew! Time is flying.

I am still in the pumpkin mode and will be until the Christmas baking begins. Not that I haven't already tried a few things but I am talking about the full fledged bake-a-thon beginning the month of December. For the next month you will see a few more pumpkin things here, I apologize in advance if you are not a pumpkin fan. 

This pumpkin loaf is scrumptious, it is a cross between a cake and a bread with frosting. It is moist and yet surprisingly light with the perfect amount of spice and delicious flavors of Fall. If you do not like cream cheese frosting, you could leave it plain, sprinkle it with powdered sugar or even drizzle it with browned-butter glaze.

Pumpkin Loaf
Recipe: Breadsmiths Bakery 


2 cups sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup of vegetable oil
11/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
2 eggs
31/2 cups flour
1/3 cups water

Combine the sugar, brown sugar and oil in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until well blended. Add the baking soda, powder, salt, cinnamon, all-spice, and nutmeg. Beat at medium speed until blended. Add the pumpkin and the eggs and beat until incorporated. Add the flour and water and stir until just mixed. Do not overmix. 

Pour batter into 2 5 x 9 inch loaf pans and smooth the top.

Arrange pans on the middle rack and bake at 375 for 50-70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

6 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste

21/2 cups of powdered sugar
1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream

Mix cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract in a bowl, in a bowl with an electric mixer, slowly add powdered sugar and stir until smooth. Add heavy whipping cream to get the consistency of the frosting that you prefer.

What did you do this weekend? I noticed in blogland that many of us have been running ourselves ragged, I hope that you found some time to relax, read, rest and rejuvenate. 

Have a great week!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Favorites from The Sweetest Occasion, Romancing the Home, Jess Lively, The Polohouse and More

Good morning! Happy Friday! Whew, what a week. First my refrigerator stopped cooling, then the heat wouldn't come on, add in a dog with an ear infection and allergies, two repair men and life and I am worn out!

Image Pine Cones and Acorns

Weeks like these remind me that I have to s-l-o-w down, the year is speeding by and I feel as if I am missing my favorite parts. Can you believe that in a week it is November?

Image Pine Cones and Acorns

 Although the week was busy I did manage to find more than a few favorites to share with you, everything from snacks, drinks, movies and more. 

Image Romancing the Home

Susan at Romancing the Home featured a friends Fall garden and it is not only comfortable but beautiful. I would love to sit in front of the fireplace with a group of friends, a hot drink and perhaps some of these tasty Rosemary Almonds from Bette's Blues

Image from The Sweetest Occasion.

For those of you who prefer something a little stronger to keep warm on a cool night, The Sweetest Occasion posted three Whisky Cocktails. 1. Black and Blue Manhattan from The Boys Club 2. Whiskey Sour from Yummy Supper 3Mixed Berry and Fig Old Fashioned from The Boys Club.

Image from Jess Lively

As I am going to try to slow down and enjoy the rest of the year, Jess Livelys ' post 10 Habits to be More Present was the perfect find this week.

Image from Fine Films

Another great reminder to slow down and enjoy life, family and friends is the documentary, Life According to Sam, which premiered this week on HBO. The film features, Sam, one of 250 children in the world living with Progeria, a rare and fatal aging syndrome and his parents who are both doctors that have spent the last 11 years searching for a cure for their son. This movie is one of the best I have ever seen. It is life affirming and heartbreaking, a testament to determination, spirit and courage and living life one day at a time. 

I mentioned last week that I am already in the Christmas mode. I like to have all of my gifts purchased, wrapped and mailed by December 1st, so that I can spend December baking, seeing The Christmas Carol and Nutcracker and just enjoying the holidays. So far so good.

Image from Jannelle McCulloch Library of Design

One of my favorite gifts to give is books and this week there were several great finds, one of which is from the prolific writer and blogger Jannelle McCulloch. Provence and the Cote d'Azur is going to be released on December 1st, just in time for Christmas. 

Image Me

Janelle for those of you who are not familiar is the author of 18 books on design, gardening, travel and architecture as well as the author of the blog A Library of Design. One of my favorite books of her is Paris An Inspiring Tour of the City's Creative Heart.

Image from The Polohouse

If you are looking for a few new and beautiful decorating ideas for Christmas run out and purchase Midwest Living Magazine. Allison of The Polohouse and her warm, welcoming and wonderful home are featured this month. This is my favorite feature of all of the holiday magazines I have seen so far.

Image from Facebook Weed Em & Reap

I laughed out loud at this cartoon which I saw on Weed Em & Reap

And for the technically challenged, like myself, a tutorial for a hovering Pin It button  featured on Sew Many Ways which I found through Stacy on South Shore Decorating. When I have a minute I am going to install this!

Once Upon A Chocolate Life

Last but not least, my new favorite drink, Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Easy and Delicious. Recipe on Once Upon a Chocolate Life.

I hope that you have a great weekend! Enjoy!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lick the Bowl Good by Monica Holland

Good morning! The last few days have been all about food and cookbooks and today is going to be no different. I have been sent several cookbooks recently and I really want to share them all with you! I only write about things I love, and cookbooks are one of my favorite things.

I wonder though, do you have the same problem as I do.  I am often taken in by one or two recipes and a whole lot of fabulous photos. But then after getting the book home I realize that the book is filled with many things I do not like or eat, or the recipes are way too complicated and call for many ingredients that I don't want to bother with. 

Lick the Bowl Good is not one of those books, I promise you that you will want to make everything in it. The classic home-style desserts are the kind that you might remember your mom making; chocolate cake, pound cake, brownies,  and sugar cookies to name but a few recipes that you will find in this book.

 Written by Monica Holland, a fellow blogger, Lick the Bowl Good is filled with over 60 sweet treats to share with your family and friends, or just to keep for yourself if you like. Each carefully tested and beautifully photographed dessert will have you itching to pull out your baking pans the minute you open the book.

As you can see I marked a few of the pages that I like and am going to make. As a matter of fact since I received the book I have baked several tasty treats.

 Including, Lick the Bowl Brownies, Creamy Rice Pudding, Nutella Panna Cotta, 

Lick the Bowl Brownies

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake and the Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Browned Butter Glaze.

When you make the Pumpkin Bundt cake, notice I said when not if, be sure to make an extra batch of the Browned Butter Glaze, you will lap it up it is so good. Try not to be impatient like me, I "melted" my glaze a bit so that I could get it to pour over the cake and frankly it poured right over and pooled at the bottom.

What Pumpkin Cake with Browned Butter Glaze should look like. 

It is actually supposed to look like the cake above. No matter, the cake and the glaze as with everything that I have made and shared is easy, delicious and just like the recipes both my grandmother and mother made for me when I was young. 

This cookbook is a wonderful gift for beginners or experienced bakers and I think would make a great Christmas present. In fact I have already ordered a few for friends.

Do you know of  Monica and her blog Lick the Bowl Good? If not be sure to pop over and check out her recipes, not only from her own book but from baking clubs that she regularly participates in.

Have a great day!

NOTE: I was given a copy of the book Lick the Bowl Good by Skyhorse Publishing. I was not compensated in anyway, my opinions are my own.