Everything’s better when it’s dipped in Chocolate

IMG_1329Off to a friends Open House, and whipped up some Chocolate covered strawberries, some with sprinkles, some with heath candy, and some with nuts or extra chocolate. They were gone before I took off my coat. They were a hit the last time I brought them to a family event as well so I have to remember this as a “go to” item for events, potlucks etc. I feel like I am always bringing a salad and since I’m gluten-free it’s usually a good idea so I have something to eat too, right? Since I knew what other folks would be bringing and we had already had a good meal prior to going, this seemed perfect! I would love to know anyone elses go to items that super easy and quick to bring to a potluck that isn’t the standard chips & salsa, humus and veggies.


The Hallows are coming…

I grew up in Salem, MA, yep, the good ‘ol Witch City. I can tell you it was nothing like it is today although, Halloween was always a prime holiday. It was the best place in the world to trick or treat, and I can say that now, knowing that there is a serious lack of decor and festivities in other places. I lived on a suburban street corner growing up and we kept track of how many trick or treaters came to the door (with which there was spooky music, pumpkins galore that Marth Stewart would adore and maybe a few ghosts…) over 100 just within 1 hour I can tell you! If you ran out of candy, you best be prepared for a trick! There wasn’t a house in the neighborhood who didn’t jump on the Halloween bandwagon. I remember haunted houses through backyards, spooky music playing, scarecrows that came to life just as your hand reached for the candy bowl! Eeeek!!! It was all so terrifyingly fun! Everything was handmade from costumes to tombstones. Even as I became to “old” to trick or treat, I made sure Halloween parties were a smash and costumes were over the top creative. I couldn’t help myself, that was what you were supposed to do after all! I couldn’t shake the embedded “Salem Halloween” vibe from my soul.

My first Halloween that I stayed at home for was seriously disappointing. I remember preparing the apartment we lived in with ghouls delight and putting out the pumpkins all carved with sarcastic grins and mysterious gazes complete with eyebrows and ears! And then, waiting for trick or treaters to arrive and, and, and…..nothing, not a soul! We lived close to a school, in an area with kids and no one came to snag our treats! I was utterly disappointed! Where WAS everyone for Halloween??? Did I miss the newsletter? The report on having No Halloween this year! GULP! Argghhh! I made my husband (then live-in sweetie) go outside and trick or treat a few times at the door, he could see I was devastated. I stayed up past midnight watching all the scary movies I could just to suck all the Halloween-ness  out of the night and get lost in the fact that Halloween didn’t seem to happen where I lived. I thought about moving. I thought about driving around to see where everyone was and hand out my candy from the car. The next day, I brought the lack of Halloween up to other folks around, they didn’t see it? Apparently, Halloween wasn’t an ornate extravaganza that occurred in every household and most didn’t even celebrate, even as kids. Curses, what a sin!!!

I still get JAZZED for Halloween, it’s the simplest and biggest holiday for me. The decor, story telling, pumpkin carving, creativity, the air, fall food and sweets, what is there missing? So when Halloween comes around where I live now (just maybe 15 minutes north of Salem) I treat it with lots of oomph! Now, with a 9-year-old to boot, who was brought up with some serious Halloween heritage, we make sure we dawn our unique Halloween style….and cast that spell to others who didn’t get to grow up in the witch city. We may be the only house with pumpkins a glow, the only one with a few spooks that blow in the breeze outside or gather WAY too much candy to hand out for the lack of trick or treaters that dare to explore our dead-end street….but my daughter still waits for the few who do make it, as her favorite part is handing out the candy and seeing some great costumes. The wandering around gathering treats isn’t bad either, but she adores watching little faces lite up when she answers the door in costume and makeup and makes sure they say “Trick or Treat” and has a sweet dialogue with them…She enjoys Halloween, it’s not about Candy, it’s about spirit, the change of seasons, imagination and fantasy.

This year, we’re hosting a trick or treat kick off party. Our pumpkins and decor won’t go un-missed and we’ll be sure to have a few tricks up our sleeves as well. I hope you have the Halloween bug! Do you have any traditions or spookiness to share?

Happy Haunting!!!

* I made the above window Silhouettes. I drew a hauntingly image inspired by some I found on the interweb and then cut them out. I used double sided tape to attach them to the window. The Spider has a web that was drawn using and Expo erasable pen. Totally inexpensive decor Under $5-.

Gingerbread Mania…

Every year since I’ve known my hubby, we’ve gone to his mother’s to participate in the decorating extravaganza of Gingerbread House making. This is not your Martha Stewart process of decorating, more like a wham bam, get it done while you can process. I do like to take my time, pay attention to detail and try to be somewhat inventive in the process but I’ve learned a lot from these Gingerbread excursions, let me tell you.

His mother use to live in NYC, so we’d drive out to see her and drive home for 4-5 hours while trying to maintain construction of a wavering gingerbread house..Oh my! That was fun! Some years she came to us. I have a Wonderful kitchen AID mixer, and the mom in law loves to use it! (I can still peel off Royal Icing from hard to reach places of that machine.) When our lil girl had a better handle on the g’bread construction process I left a lot of it up to her and something she does with her Grandma. I’ve learned the creative process is different for a lot of people. I’m visual and take pride in my creativity. I would say, my hubby’s fam is more about spending time together and not the end result, but laughing and having fun. Not bad, right? So about that letting go part, I let my daughter come up with her own ideas (granted I may toss in a couple of what if’s or hmmm, or your could try to see possibilities) and so the combination and polar opposites of the creative process of gingerbread construction comes through, in her eyes, her vision…..this year being almost 9. This is my daughter gingerbread house done independent of adult help, minus a few of dad’s royal icing patches….She had a wonderful time (as you can tell)!

The day continued with a tree purchase and decorations and always, always with her topping the tree!!!

And later on I got to tend to some Holiday knitting for a small little person in the family! Isn’t the Gnome cute!!! It’s the Gnome-baby from Ravelry! Created in some Patons wool.

There was also some more small gift knitting for a fun Aunt. A single lady who has a great sense of humor. Last year she was the recipient of the lacy blue knitted thong. This year it’s a chapstick cosy…..in the form f a penis, HAH!!! You gotta love the stuff you can find on Ravelry, really now, a penis chapstick cosy, I know have a line of her co workers who want one.

My sad news for some holiday projects was that I never got some pics. One of  the Urban Homesteader Ponytail hat, which kicked serious butt. And the other an American Girl Doll poncho for my nieces new Julie doll she was getting this year. It was similar to the Ravelry pattern, but not quite… Now that’s quite a busy day filled with some chuckles and grins-love those kinds of days!

Long Silence & Noticing…

Mostly in the morning while enjoying a cup of tea or java, I enjoy a mini ritual of prancing around link to link, all sorts of different blogs and viewing inspirations and loveliness that I see from my blog roll and beyond. These little delights spark my imagination and creativity and let me see the world through someone elses eyes, feel a connection or learn something new. It’s curious how the authors and their topics tend to peak and flow with various ranging content. From projects meeting completion and going on the hunt for the next project, to items or topics that inspire them or pursuing how they can make a change in the world, watching their children growing older and their blog maturing as well. It’s also interesting the NEW influx of blogs that have emerged, sparking a new generation of bloggers with all new interests.

I often wonder how these bloggers find support either through their community or network of friends with common interests.  I can see blogging as way to dip my feet in their world while I continue my search for like kin with mutual interests closer to home to connect with one on one.  And somehow, blogging does feel like a ginormous community to network with right out my backdoor. Slowly, more and more I notice the creative blog world coinciding with each other, building communities, networks and relationships that extend beyond the inter web and into action in the “real” world, its quite amazing to watch such thriving.

I enjoy lots of blogs and also enjoy the blogging process myself at times. For me, it’s challenging to figure out what I want to say or keep to myself, as I mainly blog to track fun things in life if I have time, perhaps use to set a goal, or maybe join in on a group discussion or project. Like some, I don’t blog to connect with family, as they’re close by, but I do find myself utilizing a blog to connect with similar folks I see as a creative mirror to myself who carve their niche of ideas in the world.

Lately, I’ve noticed that blogs I’ve regular-ed have been on hiatus, are not posting as much interesting info, or just simply posting a few photos or words. Blogs that have had a prolonged silence, that have grown into their own dominion of a web empire, and some blogs just disappearing….

We’re all claiming our little nest in the blog tree, almost just because we all have a story to share. It’s a wondrous thing to watch all this growth and change from a backseat and noticing how each individual bloggers life has switched gears or changed paths somehow. By visiting these little pieces of the cyber universe I feel that so many questions come up not just about what happened or where the authors or their time went, but with life in general and how it affects everyone…we’re seasonal animals, life ebbs and flows and all things change, it’s constant.

Interestingly, I’ve noticed a mirror within all of this. At times, some of these blogs I’ve had to ignore, do away with, or convince myself that they’re a nifty, deceptive trick. Some tend to make myself or other bloggers (as I’ve noticed) feel inadequate at times. It’s one thing to feel that you have the capacity that you can always do more, be more, and try harder and who would want to read a negative blog without some story or follow through?  But at times it can eat away at you when you already feeling like you’re doing your best or time just doesn’t want to cooperate. After reading lots of blogs over the years, I can see how life has affected them and, have noticed a trend between some who continue to persevere or those who tend to get fed up and maybe seize an ending to their much beloved followed blogs with a tense filled explanation of the why and how they are ending the blog land communicato as well as everything in between.

Overall, I find it exciting to see what will happen in the future, how long some of these older blogs will maintain, if it will get easier or harder. What they will eventually develop into and to what the future holds  as all bloggers seek these multifaceted connections.  There’s some wonderful magic that’s occurring out there and I hope to be a part of it wherever it goes…will you?

When the Weather Gives You Rain, Make Rainbows…

We celebrated a birthday this month. It’s been 8 years, boy the time goes by. Due to all the rain this year and the kids growing like weeds my small home was unable to accommodate them so we had a birthday out this year. We did a paint your own pottery party and it was fun and the ladies were just the right age to enjoy it, plus I didn’t have to clean up anything, how awesome. Although, I really prefer having parties with family and everyone at home in the yard. This is the second time we’ve had a birthday “out” the other time was due to construction on the house and I have to say I can see why some folks get use to having parties at other locations, they are convenient but there’s just something so natural about having them at home and letting the kids create and be guided by their own instincts for a birthday gathering.

I decorated the cake the morning of, a little behind schedule you see. I had my 8-year-old helper and mom pop in to help and we each had a different vision of what an artists palette cake should look like, so we compromised and it did turn out cute. Nana and the birthday girl even made some quick edible paint brushes from licorice and fruit leather, which I was secretly asked to keep some aside for snacking on later….

So yes the color is a bit scary! But boy, what a fun cake to make and so fun to see everyone’s surprise when you cut into it. The kids thought it was so amazing and I must have told all the adults how to do it…I’m not a fan of food coloring (this cake used the food coloring gels) but once a year and the punch of these colors is enough to last till the next cake. I first saw this cake at http://www.omnomicon.com/rainbowcake but if you google rainbow cakes, you come up with all sorts of photos to peruse. I didn’t succumb to the  diet version with the soda that the link above suggests, I just added the coloring to the batter and went from there.

It was a lovely Birthday party, and turned out to beautiful day of course, the only one after weeks of rain. At least the ground got to dry up a little and later that afternoon about two dozen mud pies were made in the yard and baked a few days on our picnic table. I had to do some cleaning afterall, quite a feat compared to a birthday, but it was so awesome to watch them go to town on that mud!

Hope Your Valentines Day was LOVE-ly…

Filled with family birthdays, quick visits with friends and family, Valentine delivery at school, some figure skating and a competition, it’s been a whirlwind of a weekend filled with fun!  Plus lots of knitting, baking, crafting, building (my studio got some shingles added to it, it’s coming along…) plus lots of  I Love You’s!

Now it is school vacation week… I love having my little girl home and just pacing our day however we please.  Let the chilax-sation begin!