Pumpkin Painting

By: Shannon Shull

October begins my favorite time of the year. Not only are several very special birthdays celebrated within my family, but also the weather finally begins to cool and the leaves start Pumpkinchanging. Though our days get shorter as they inevitably get busier, this time of the year also means that the holiday season is sneaking up on us. And there’s just something indescribable in the air that brings a sense of joy, even though we tend to be loaded with fatter to-do lists and more events overwhelming our schedules.

As I type this blog entry, it’s now time for the fall/Halloween décor to come out and grace our homes. Though carving pumpkins is cool, I prefer to paint them rather than dealing with the mess that comes with carving. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the glow of a candle in a carved pumpkin. But I have seen some of the most awesome painting designs for pumpkins!

You can keep it simple and just add glitter to a pumpkin, or you can paint on different textures and patterns. If you’re sick of the traditional orange and black Halloween color palate, you can paint your pumpkin different colors.  You can even paint pictures or turn your pumpkin into your favorite animal!

 I just have to share some of my favorite ideas: 

Enjoy and please share any of your own pumpkin painting ideas and creations!

OctoNovemCember

By: Crisse Miller Kirby

Some nights, like tonight, I struggle with falling asleep too early and then waking up at random hours, only to struggle with falling BACK asleep. It is frustrating, to say the least. However, my random sleep habits are a discussion for another time. (I think I need to go back and watch my friend and fellow blogger, Roshanda Pratt’s video from a few weeks back!)

I often find myself perusing news sites just to see what is going on in the world around me. This morning was no different, and I came across the following little gem of an article (I hope that my air of sarcasm is detected): “’OctoNovemCember’? Retailers speed holiday calendar.” Without even reading the article, I knew, and you know too, what it will be about: the frustrating and aggravating ways that retailers shove holidays down our throats before we are ready.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not some miserly curmudgeon who screams “Bah, humbug” at the mention of Christmas. I love Christmas. I love Thanksgiving. And I love Halloween. Yep, I do. I love all of them at their proper time of year, though. I would be okay if my local Wal-Mart put out Halloween and Thanksgiving fare roughly around the same time since it all sort of flows together: pumpkins, harvest time, etc. with a few ghosts and goblins thrown in for good measure. However, as I recently discovered at my local Wal-Mart, Christmas decorations and Christmas cards already line the shelves. What in the world? Halloween was still two weeks away! After that, we still had close to four weeks before we would celebrate Thanksgiving, and then yet another four weeks before Christmas!

Again, please understand, I KNOW that people are shopping for Christmas already. Heck, I’ve even done a little “shopping” myself, buying a few gifts back in August. The above referenced article suggests that we, consumers, have no one to blame but ourselves because we start shopping early. We want to shop early and be done. However, how many times have you put a Christmas tree on layaway? Honestly? People want to buy gifts for their children or spouses or parents early; I’m not looking for a special new ornament right now!!

And it’s not just the fact that we are seeing all of this before the other holidays that really chaps my hide; it’s the fact that we seem to be losing Thanksgiving in there all together. And, honestly, Thanksgiving, itself, can be a day full of memories and fun, just as Christmas can be. It is a time for my family to gather together at my grandmother’s house and spend the day picking at turkey, ham, vegetable dishes and more desserts than we know what to do with. It is a day of laughter and jokes and hugs and stories passed around about children and work and life in general without the hustle and bustle of opening gifts. It is about being thankful for having a wonderful family with which to gather. It is about being thankful that we live in the country in which we do live.

I realize that my little diatribe here will have little to no effect on retailer’s habits, but I’m curious to see how our readers feel. Does it drive you insane? Or do you like it? And if you do, why?

Let Them Eat Cake. I Mean, Candy.

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

Halloween is upon us.  As we all carve our pumpkins, string spider webs on our porches and hang skeletons about the house, the kids are eagerly anticipating one thing. No, it’s not dressing up in their costumes.  It’s not Halloween carnivals, nor the actual event of trick-or-treating.  It’s all about the candy.  Plain and simple.

Now, I’m a mom to a 6 year old. She’s like all kids: energetic, curious, funny, and she loves candy. So, like all good parents, my husband and I try to be conscientious about the frequency and amount of candy (and other sweets) she’s allowed to consume. We want her to continue to eat veggies and refuel her muscles with lots of protein, but sometimes it’s a battle.  We hear things like, “Did I eat enough to have dessert?”  I can’t even tell you how crazy this question makes me. I don’t want her thinking of a meal as a gateway to dessert. But, as often as I get annoyed and agitated about it, I try to talk myself down by reminding myself that she is, in fact, a kid. And to be quite honest, if she didn’t want candy and dessert, I’d probably be just as worried that something is wrong. (”Wait, she’s a kid and she never wants sweets?  What’s wrong?!?”)

So, let’s go back to Halloween. It’s all about the candy.  In recent years, many folks have meant well and handed out bags of microwave popcorn, little bags of “Halloween pretzels”, spooky bubbles, baggies of Halloween erasers and organic gummy stuff. The worst of all is the doling out of toothbrushes. What is this about?  Do we need to review what Halloween is about?  Really, people?  Really?

It’s about the candy- all about the candy.  As a kid, the best part of the whole evening was coming home and dumping it all out on the carpet and spreading it out to see all the goodies that I scored.

I even sorted the candy! Since I wasn’t crazy about Snickers, so those went to my mom.  No kid likes the miniature Hershey’s “special dark” and never has, but you have to hand it to Hershey’s.  They’ve continued making that vile candy bar in hopes that they’d eventually convince everyone else to eat it.  Thanks to that French woman telling us all how she doesn’t get fat, dark chocolate has finally gotten its 15 minutes of fame.  But, back in the 70’s, they just went in the trash.  I was a chocolate girl, so all the hard candy went to my friend Cathleen.  Suckers went into their own pile and were saved.  When all the chocolate was finally gone, the suckers were the last, sweet reminder of the Halloween spoils.  But you know what the best part of it all was?  On Halloween night, my parents NEVER told us “ok, just have 2 pieces and then we’re putting it away.”  They let us eat our candy. With reckless abandon, no limits, and no boundaries.  That is Halloween.

So, this year, my daughter is old enough to really take in all of the parts of Halloween: the lights, the jack-o-lanterns, the scary decorations, comparing costumes with the neighbor kids.  She’ll collect a lot of candy and her mouth may fall open when I let her dump it all out on the floor and take inventory. And, as much as I try to limit sweets every other day of the year, on the night of October 31st, my baby is going to truly experience Halloween. And the candy.  All the glorious candy.

Halloween Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

By: Brady Evans

There are not many things I miss about living in suburbia.  Yes, farm life is definitely for me.  However, we were pretty disappointed last year on our first Halloween on the farm.  We didn’t get any trick-or-treaters! Not even one. That’s definitely one thing I miss about city living: celebrating the wackiest ‘holiday’ of the year.

Just because we don’t have strangers knocking at our door asking for food, doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate with the best of them. Halloween definitely has the most potential for making awesome treats that go along with a theme.

One example: this spider-web-themed pumpkin cheesecake pie. Not only is it festive, but its flavor combination is out of this world (and slightly reminiscent of those muffins at Starbucks)! Now, I’m not a pro baker, so if I can make it, so can you! Just do yourself a favor and top the pie with a plastic spider, to really go the extra mile!

Halloween Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie (adapted and inspired from these recipes)

Ingredients:

For the pumpkin filling:

  • 1 15-oz can packed pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs

For the cheesecake:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 9-inch chocolate cookie crust

To make the pumpkin filling: Beat eggs with sugar.  Add spices, pureed pumpkin, and evaporated milk.  Whisk to combine.

To make the cheesecake filling: Beat cream cheese until softened.  Add sugar and incorporate beaten egg.  Add vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.

To assemble pie: Pour pumpkin filling into cookie crust.  Pour cheesecake filling into a zip top bag and snip off end.  To make spider web design, lightly pipe concentric circles of cheesecake into the pumpkin filling.  Using a clean knife, drag the blade of a knife from the outside of the pie towards the center, wiping the knife between drags. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 60 minutes.