Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Good morning and Happy Halloween! I hope that you have a wonderful day, and that if you are out trick or treating with the grand-kids or kids that you get lots of treats that you like!

Have a happy and safe day!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Grandmother the Witch

Image the Graphics Fairy

I mentioned the other day that I do not like scary Halloween decorations and in the lore of old what could be more scary that an ugly, old which with warts that carries you off on her broom to be gobbled up for dinner? 

For those of you that have followed me for some time this post will be a flash back from last year, but I love to re-read it and re-post it at Halloween because it brings back so many happy memories of my grandmother; because you see I grew up believing that she was a witch. 

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 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 29, 2014

Halloween Thoughts

Good morning! Can you believe that Halloween is Friday? Seriously, where does the time go? It seems like Fall just arrived. 

I have been thinking about Halloween this week, perhaps because as I take my walk each morning I am amazed at the the decorations, and I am not talking about cute jack-o-lanterns. Entire yards are decked out like haunted houses, with "dead" bodies, frightening ghouls, goblins, scenes from the walking dead, zombies, horrifying witches, ghosts and so much more.

I have to be honest, Halloween is not my favorite holiday. Yes, as a child I loved dressing up and going to parties and trick-or-treating. My costumes were sweet and sunny, I was Glenda the Good Witch from the Wizzard of Oz, or Little Bo Peep and one year an M&M. I refused to dress as something scary. 

My favorite part of the day was dumping out my pillow case and checking out all of my tasty treats. Back then I LOVED Snicker bars. and those peanut butter candies in the orange and black wrappers. 

My least favorite place was walking along the dark streets, with my siblings, scared to death that something horrible was going to jump put of a bush and carry me off to who knows where.

I know it sounds a little dramatic but that is how I felt and it is probably why I do not like scary movies, and stuff like that now. 

What about you, are you a fan of Halloween? Do you have a favorite costume that you used to wear? Do you decorate your yard with pumpkins or do you decorate with scary things?

Whatever the case, I hope that you have a fabulous day and that come Friday you are visited by lots, and lots of little ghosts, goblins, varies, princess and more!


Linking to:
Savvy Southern Style

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Friday Favorites from Elizabeth Floyd, Ewa in the Garden, Tone on Tone, Relish and More

Good morning! Another Friday is upon us, I think my in-laws are correct, the older you get the faster time seems to go by. I have been so busy this week, I am so ready for the weekend. Last night, the weather finally turned cool and I am feel like its Fall. I don't mean to complain but it is hard to get into Fall when it is still in the high 70's and you are wearing shorts.

Image from Elizabeth Floyd

This week my favorites reflect those sentiments, the straddling of summer/fall. Elizabeth Floyd showcased her latest painting and it is stunning! I was introduced to Elizabeth's work from a post that Loi of Tone on Tone wrote and since that day I have been in love. Isn't this painting of hydrangeas' in Blue Willow fabulous? Follow along on Elizabeth's blog and you can get an idea of how she creates these amazing still life paintings. Perhaps you may want to commission one for yourself.

Image from Tone on Tone

Speaking of Loi, at Tone on Tone, did you see his breathtaking photos from his recent trip with Tom to their new house in Maine? If not you must check it out. The Fall colors are spectacular! 

Image Ewa in the Garden

For fans of gardening, and more specifically Vita Sackville-West and her English garden, check out this book review from Ewa in the Garden. I think it sounds like a great read, even if I do not have a green thumb. 

I am already thinking about the upcoming holidays and what tasty treats I am going to make. Honestly, I am all about appetizers and dessert so that is really what I am gathering recipes for, after all I can leave the turkey and other proteins to my husband.

Image from Relish

Of course it would not be the holidays without a pie or two. Whether you will be making your crust from scratch or using one from the freezer section you can make it look special by using these great techniques from Relish.

Bake Brie from Will Cook For Friends

I LOVE cheese! And melted, oozy, gooey cheese is a favorite. This Bake Brie with Honey, Rosemary and Candied Walnuts from Will Cook For Friends. Doesn't this look like a great appetizer for a party? Or even for  Friday night at home with your significant other? I am making this brie this weekend.

On that note, I wish you a relaxing and safe weekend! Enjoy!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Apple Slab, Apple Pie, Apple Soup, Apple Sandwiches and More

Slab Apple

For the most part when I think of Fall I immediately think of pumpkins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and anything else that contains pumpkin. 

Harvest Apple Pie, Pine Cones and Acorns

But to be honest, I bake and cook with apples just as much. After all what would a Fall be with out caramel apples or apple slab, both of which are things I used to love making with my grandmother.

This year, I am looking for a few new recipes to try and I did not have to go further than my Fall Pinterest board, it is filled with sandwiches, cakes, cookies, pies and more.

Here are a few of the recipes from my Fall board that I have on my list to make in the next few weeks.

Caramel Apple Galettes from Cooking For Keeps

Dutch Apple Pie from A Spicy Perspective

Apple Cake with Maple Frosting from a Kitchen Addiction
Irish Apple Cake from The View From the Great Island

Apple Artisan Cheese Sandwich from Taste Blog

I hope that you have a fabulous day!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce and Toasted Pecans

Good evening. I have been so busy today I forgot to post this. My weekend was so lazy and relaxing I wish I had another day. What about you? Did you enjoy yourself? What did you get up to? Reading, relaxing, soaking up the last of the sun before Winter sets in?

I made this Pumpkin Bread Pudding, and it is delicious and a little bit of a twist on bread pudding to suit the flavor of fall. Admittedly, the recipe came about because I was trying to do too many things while baking pumpkin bread and the bread overcooked. So rather than throw it away I made a little custard and made it into pumpkin bread pudding.

You can use any recipe for pumpkin bread that you like, you can even make a loaf from a box and it will work just fine. I think this is a unique dessert for the upcoming holidays and honestly would be great with a variety of breads. 

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

1 9 inch loaf of prepared pumpkin bread
Recipe HERE

Recipe from Bobby Flay Food Network
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons vanilla bean paste
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons Bourbon

Heat oven to 325. Cut loaf of pumpkin bread into cubes and place on baking sheet. Bake until toasted, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside. Prepare a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with butter, and scatter toasted pumpkin bread cubes across bottom.

In a medium saucepan, combine heavy cream, milk and vanilla bean paste. Bring to a simmer and set aside. In a large bowl combine eggs, maple syrup, pumpkin and whisk together.
Slowly whisk the cream mixture into the egg mixture, then add the Bourbon.
Pour the custard mixture over the pumpkin cubes and let sit for 15 minutes to soak in. Press down on the cubes to submerge.

Place the pan into a larger roasting pan and then pour hot tap water into the large roaster until it comes half-way up the sades of the pan containing the custard mixture.

Bake in the water bath until the sides are slightly puffy and the center jiggles, about 1 hour.

Remove pan from water bath and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Salted Caramel Sauce from American Heritage Cooking

Toasted Pecans

Place serving of bread pudding on serving plate, drizzle with caramel sauce and top with pecans.


Are you a fan of bread pudding? Do you like pumpkin? Than this dessert may be just the ticket. It is a fabulous dessert and an even better breakfast, after all pumpkin is a super food!

I hope that you try this, if so let me know and if you have a pumpkin recipe please share it with me, you know how I love pumpkin!

Have a great night!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friday Favorites from Waiting on Martha, Two Peas & Their Pod, Carmel Moments and More

Good morning! I love Fridays, the end of a work week and the endless possibilities ahead make me jump out of bed in anticipation of adventures ahead. 

My choices seem endless, walks along the ocean, drives in the country,  a stack of recipes waiting to be baked, an excellent book and of course time spent with my husband and pups. 

This week my favorites are all about Fall, entertaining, cooking, baking and nesting.

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I would love to start my day with these Pumpkin English Muffins from Carmel Moments

Two Peas & Their Pod

Two Peas & Their Pod made this Butternut Squash Pasta filled with all of the flavors of Fall.  You will not believe how easy this pasta is to make, I made it twice this week and it is delicious.

The Hungry Mouse

What would a weekend be without dessert? The Hungry Mouse made a Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake with chocolate shortbread crust that looks and sounds delicious. I am definitely making this soon. 

Image Waiting on Martha

Waiting on Martha created a stunning tables cape to celebrate Fall. The flowers, the place settings, everything is a feast for the eye. So many great ideas for my own holiday entertaining.

The Neo-Traditionalist published an excellent list of reader recommended books this week. As someone who is a voracious reader I always enjoy recommendations from other book lovers.

I hope that you find something new here and of course if you have something to share please do.

Have a wonderful weekend.