Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

vintage Halloween post card

Getting ready for the big day...

 I-N-H-A-L-E.  The smell of pumpkin fills the kitchen. We love squishing the stringy pulp in our hands and scooping out the seeds! 

Ahem, a little assistance from Daddy for the polka-dots!
The pumpkin seeds are rinsed, dried and seasoned for roasting...
Hot and ready to eat!

Annabel's polka-dot jack-o-lantern

Anita's ghostly jack-o-lantern, designed by her!

 My heart-o-lantern
And last but not least, my cat Buddy, "dressed up" for Halloween...

I can't show you the girls' costumes yet, as children are not allowed to dress up at their school.  I find it silly, but anyhow, they will have all day to anticipate dressing up after school! 

It continues to rain this morning, as it has been for the past few days.  Hopefully, we will see a reprieve for the  trick-or-treaters tonight.  How is the weather behaving where you are?  Are any of you dressing up today?  Are you doing anything special tonight?  I would love to know how you are celebrating today.   

Happy Halloween, dear friends!  I hope you all enjoy a safe, fun night!  xo

Friday, October 19, 2012

On Fall Decorating, Food, Recipes and Inspiration!

Happy Friday, dear friends!  Can you believe there are only 12 more sleeps left until Halloween?  It feels like the month of October is fleeing as quickly as the leaves are flying off the trees!  The days are getting shorter, there is a nip in the air, and I've been keeping fall-busy. 

I've been decorating indoors.  These are the leaves my girls and I gathered on our little foliage tour a couple of weeks ago.  I put them in the pages of a heavy book to flatten and dry.  The acorns were  found by Annabel in her school yard.  Every time she finds a "perfect" one, she brings it home for me.  The Autumn banner was hand-made by my dear friend, Janie.  Since she gave it to me, it always has a special place in my fall decorating!
I put our pumpkins out on the porch steps along with Mr. Scarecrow and our little welcome flag.
The light colored pumpkin is a "pink pumpkin".  For every pumpkin sold, a percentage is donated to breast cancer research.  You can visit the website if you'd like to learn more.
 Our smiling pumpkin lights decorating our front porch
The season of autumn, including this month of October, brings about in me a craving for what I call "cozy cooking".  The recent chilly and blustery weather has me thinking of things like hearty bowls of soup, warm breakfast cereals, and cheesy, grilled sandwiches.  Although I have substantially lowered my daily carb consumption, I do allow myself occasional treats! 
My dear friend, Morwenna, posted about her yummy breakfast in one of her recent blog posts.  If you haven't already, you simply must visit her lovely blog -  She is an English cutie and a fabulous baker who always provides me with inspiration! 
Morwenna's recipe for her organic porridge looked and sounded so good, that I too, had to run out (the very same day) and buy ingredients to make my own.
I emptied one packet of regular whole grain oatmeal into my bowl, added 2/3 cup of hot milk and stirred in one tablespoon of maple syrup.  A few banana slices, chopped walnuts, raisins and a sprinkling of ground cinnamon made an otherwise regular, boring oatmeal an over-the-top bowl of morning cozy!  Thank you, Morwenna, for your inspiration! 
Another source of food inspiration came to me just a few days ago.  I was flipping through the pages of "Our Homes" (a free, local magazine) while in the waiting room at my orthodontist's office when I came across an article about grilled cheese.  There was a lovely recipe and a photo of the most delicious looking grilled cheese sandwich. 
For lunch yesterday,  I recreated a similar grilled cheese sandwich, inspired by the magazine recipe.
If you want to recreate this sandwich yourself, you will need:

2 slices of hearty whole grain bread
1 small onion, thinly sliced, caramelized in a bit of butter
3-4 slices of cooked bacon
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
butter for spreading
First, I caramelized the onion and fried the bacon.  I set those aside and added approximately half of a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese to one slice of bread, covered it with the caramelized onions and topped it with the bacon slices.  I placed the other slice of bread on top and then buttered the top and bottom slices. 
Next, I heated a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  When the pan was nice and hot,  I put the grilled cheese sandwich in it, pressing it down every so often with a spatula until the under side of the bread was golden brown and the cheese began to melt.  Then, I flipped over the sandwich and did the same thing to the other side. And ta-da...
It was so good!  The flavours really complemented eachother!  I will definitely be making this again!  I think next time, I'll try omitting the bacon and making it with caramelized onion and cheese only, maybe even cheddar cheese. 
I hope you are all enjoying the month of October and the days leading up to Halloween.  It's such a fun time of year!  I can't wait to see children and adults dressed in their costumes on Halloween.  I already bought one BIG box of treats, but I have to buy more. Last year, we had so many children coming to our door.  Halloween night is so much more festive when there are lots of children
Thanks so much for stopping by.  I always love hearing from you and appreciate your comments!  Have a wonderful fall weekend! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Blessed & Thankful Weekend

It is the day after Thanksgiving holiday (for those of us who live in Canada).  Nearly one month has passed since my last post and of course, so much has happened since then!  The fleeting fall season is upon us and the autumnal trees are boasting their magnificent hues.  The girls have been in school for over one month now and our family has settled back into the daily routines and orderly schedules of the school year. 
On a less pleasant note, our little Annabel broke her arm over a week ago.  I can't tell you how awful it was for me the first couple of days.  But because Annabel is so strong and brave, she keeps me focusing on the positive.  With all the extra love and attention she's getting; fingers crossed, by Halloween, her cast will come off, and she will be good as new again! 
Aside from that bit of sad news, everything else is great!  We had such a glorious holiday weekend; filled with so many good things, I just can't wait to share it with all of you!
On Saturday, we went on our annual fall drive to see the changing leaves at their peak.  A mere thirty minute drive from our home, in the city of Orillia, we saw this spectacular scenery!
Autumn is my favourite season and these photos are proof of it.  Can you see the vibrant red, orange and yellow leaves?  It is breathtaking to see the trees on a sunny fall day; they radiate such a soft, warm glow this time of year.  It is M-A-G-I-C! 
The girls and I picked pretty fallen leaves and stuffed them in a book to take home and dry. 
We stopped for lunch and then went for afternoon tea at this quaint and cozy tea house in Orillia.
Click on the photo for a link to the website!
At the White Lions Tea House we enjoyed freshly brewed tea and scones!  If you are ever in the area, you must stop in and visit.  Laurie, the owner, is so warm and welcoming, and her freshly baked scones are delicious! 
Here is Laurie's selection of loose-leaf tea.  I love how she stores them in clear glass jars.  Even the drawers are smiling!

On Sunday afternoon, I made pumpkin pie to take to my parents' home for Thanksgiving the next day.

Here is the pie dough.  It's the first time I ever made this type of pie edge.  I notice that the more pies I make, the better I become at playing with the dough. 

I also made half a dozen mini pies, to be on the safe side.  Our house is full of pumpkin pie lovers and it would be very dangerous to have a whole pie out on the counter, for all to see. We wouldn't want anything happening to the Thanksgiving pie, now would we?

And finally, the much anticipated day arrived - Thanksgiving day - at my parents' house.

Here is the famous 24 pound turkey, after five hours roasting in the oven.
 For some reason, the turkey keeps getting tastier and tastier as the years go by!

Thanksgiving is about tradition.  Here are a few of ours:

My mom always makes the turkey, stuffing and potatoes
We always celebrate at my parents' house
I always bake the pumpkin pie
My dad always sets the table
Nuno (my husband) always carves and serves the turkey
We always eat too much!

I love this picture!  I was taking a photo of Nuno carving the turkey, when I noticed Anita unaware and staring at the turkey, licking her lips.  Simply priceless!

My plate - turkey breast, stuffing, potatoes and gravy - YUM!

And lastly, our dessert...

a slice of homemade pumpkin pie! 

This year we added something new to our Thanksgiving celebration.  Annabel and I wrote a Thanksgiving prayer together.  Annabel read it at the table yesterday before we carved the turkey.  From now on, the prayer will be read every year at our Thanksgiving dinner. 

I hope that my fellow Canadian friends enjoyed yesterday's Thanksgiving holiday. I hope it was filled with lots of love and gratitude.  I am thankful every day, but particularly on Thanksgiving day, for my wonderful family, my dear friends, my loving husband, and precious daughters. 

I am glad that a holiday like Thanksgiving exists; reminding us to take time out from our busy lives to fully appreciate all of our blessings.  Because no matter where we are in this life, no matter what the circumstances, there is always something to be thankful for.

Many blessing to you all!  Have a wonderful week and continue to enjoy the autumn leaves, while they're still here!  xo