Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Carving and Jack-o-Lantern Exhibition.

Saturday we were invited to our friends for their 11th annual pumpkin carving party and subsequent jack-o-lantern art exhibition.  This event has grown over the years and commands about 50 friends and family to gather along the banks of Pilchuck Creek bringing their favorite recipe for an afternoon of fall fun and merriment.


I brought two delicious recipes, both inspired by my amazing and talented sister.    

This yummy pumpkin cupcake with maple cream cheese frosting, which I altered to make into mini cupcakes and added a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg.  


And an addicting version of the traditional Chex Mix, which includes, Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos, and Potato Stix.   

DSC_9909 I also made some cute treat bags for those who wanted to take some Chex for the road.

There were pumpkins everywhere and as people started arriving they instinctively began the hunt for the perfect pumpkin to carve.


The bonfire was in full blaze, the deck and cider pressing were mostly undercover and we were all dressed for the traditional October rain.  It sprinkled on and off but no one seemed to mind, although all the kiddos did look like they had taken in dip in the creek by the end of the night.


Soon the artists, little and big, took hold of markers, carving tools and scrapers and started creating.   Some drew their design of choice carefully planning each cut.


While others just started carving, their design unfolding in front of them with each new cut they made.


The day was filled with friendships, kids playing soccer, groups taking turns pressing sweet cider, and all enjoying a leisurely meal, toasting blessings and appreciating the opportunity to gather and celebrate life.

Friends walked down to the creek,


and gathered around the fire pit.


We sampled hot chili and cornbread, soups, homemade mac-n-cheese, decadent chocolate cake, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cupcakes, and a generous buffet that as the day went on, steadily disappeared. 


And the setting, as always, is beautiful.


And this little seedum was artwork all by itself, spilling out of its pot begging to be noticed and demanding a private photo shoot.




A few hours later the pumpkin gallery opened and these once still life gourds came alive with wild personality.  Some happy and some frightening but all living out their dream of becoming a masterpiece fit for the season.


And once the sun had set, the night sky became the perfect backdrop to display their illuminated glow.


Thank you John and Brenda, of Circle Creek Home, we had an amazing time as always.

Long live my love of fall.
Wishing you all a lovely weekend of finding beauty in the unexpected and celebrating your one wild and precious life!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Friends and football.

Clyde and I have never been to a pro football game so when the New England Patriots were scheduled to play the Seattle Seahawks, we knew we wanted to attend the game.  Single tickets went on sale at 10am August 27th and by 10:45am they were sold out!  But with a quick call to a ticket broker I had secured 2 tickets in our price range, aka the nose bleed section, by 11:30am.   The Patriots rarely play the Seahawks so this was a special event for us.  Now keep in mind we always root for our Seattle teams unless they play against the teams we grew up with.

I was even more excited when I received a message via Facebook that a high school friend was flying out to Seattle with another friend for the weekend to root for "his" Patriots.  I had not seen Scott since graduation in June of 1988 and we made plans to arrive early and meet up for brunch before the game.

It was great!  Scott and his buddy Jeff met Clyde, myself and another high school friend Shanna for some pre-game urban tailgating.

After brunch we headed over to the Showbox SODO and happened upon the tail end of a VIP event where we met, and took photos with Hall of Fame inductee, Sam "Bam" Cunningham, a former Patriot's full back.

Jeff, Scott and Sam.

I know what you are thinking, how much do I really follow football, right?  Well, when in Rome.

It was exciting, it added to the festivities of the day and well, why the heck not?  This might just be the only time I have the opportunity to meet a pro football player, get an autographed photo and have my picture taken with him.  Carpe Diem! 

That would be my Patriots unicorn right there baby!

With a half an hour to kick off we headed over to the stadium where 67,000 screaming fans would soon huddle together in a whirling frenzy full of passion and energy also know as American football. 

Go Pats.

Funneling into the stadium proved to be a bigger challenge than I had expected and we did not make it very far before the gridlock set in.   Most of the crowd was friendly as we slowly shuffled passed the entrance, down the hall way and through the turnstile into the stadium.   One Seahawks fan even shared his bag of chips with us in an act of general camaraderie.  We chatted along the way with lots of people, many with ties to the east coast; who knew football could be so bonding?


We had each bought our tickets separately and our seats were scattered around the stadium but we did agree to meet up after the game.

Inside the crowd was massive and the smell of hotdogs, garlic fries and beer swirled as we meandered on the way to our seats.  We went up, up and up to the nose-bleed section and it wasn't until the rain started to pour down that I was completely content with our dry seats. 

And by pour I mean the skies just opened up and dumped buckets on the field, the players and the fans.  It was impressive though the loyalty of these fans, fans who were draped in ponchos, soaked from the all too famous Seattle weather, yet steadfast in supporting their teams.  All I could think of was that famous quote by Bill Shankly, "Some people think football is a matter of life or death.  I assure you, it's much more important than that."


Now I must also mention the noise, oh my gosh the noise I could not believe the sound of that stadium, it's hard to describe and awesome to feel.  It was a thunderous roar that quickly became constant and every so often it would rear its head even louder as if saying, least you forget the presence of the twelfth man.


And look who we spotted just above the scoreboard, directly across the field at the 50 yard line, Shanna.   I had an idea of where she was sitting and it did not take long for Clyde to find her in her Pats jersey sitting right next to a Hawk.

There she is texting all her friends in Maine, "neener, neener I'm at the Patriots game, lol."

And speaking of the game, is was good.  The first quarter was good, the second quarter was good, even the third quarter was good....


They kicked, and huddled and took time outs.


....and they fumbled, and crashed and tackled each other on the soaking wet field.


And then, with minutes left on the clock, the New England Patriots gave up a 13 point lead in the fourth quarter, losing 24-23 in a tough loss to the Seattle Seahawks.   And at that very moment this eight section, 1.5 million square foot structure began to move.  Built to withstand an earthquake, CenturyLink field sits on over 2,200 pilings driven 50 ft below the ground and it was riveting to experience the massive concrete slab floors tremble beneath my feet.  It makes you wonder if the architects goal was not only to build a beautiful stadium but to actually feel the power of the twelfth man,  because at that moment the stadium was alive.  

After the long descent  downward, we all met up post game for a beer and a bit of consolation.  But mostly we laughed and reminisced and caught up on the past 24 years.  It was great.  Then we decided to head North to Mukilteo, we needed a change of scenery and we ended the night with a spin around the track at our favorite go-kart course before dropping them off at their hotel by the airport. 


We had a wonderful time, the day was full from beginning to end and every moment unfolded better than I had planned. 

Wishing you all a lovely day!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sunday I rustled up a little fall in my own kitchen.

Last weekend I went looking for fall, I jumped in the car and found just what I was looking for 80 miles away.  This weekend I nested, I embraced my walls and was all too happy to snuggle with my boys, watch a movie and bake.

I like to bake that's no surprise, and in an attempt to fit my love of baking within a more healthy diet, my meals during the week are nutritious and healthy.  We make a lot of soups during the week, we juice and try to pack in as much nutrient dense foods as we can.  But on the weekends I often find myself anxious to try a new recipe and Smitten Kitchen always inspires me.  So when I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, I was looking forward to rustling up a little fall in my own kitchen.   I make similar rolls twice a year, at Thanksgiving and at Christmas, and I did not expect these rolls to be a challenge.

I only altered a few things, I cut out quite a bit of the sugar, at least 1/3 from the dough and the filling and I made 1/2 of the rolls sticky buns by adding pecans to the filling and the bottom of the baking pan.  I also cut some of the sugar out of the glaze, which by the way was so very good.


These rolls took forever, or at least in my mind they took forever, next time I will heed the advice from Smitten Kitchen and start them the night before.  There were times I thought I was crazy, browning the butter, toasting the pecans, waiting an hour for the dough to rise, twice, jeesh!  I even thought for a moment about how quick those cinnamon rolls in the cardboard tube would have been but knew my desired effect was not to be found in a cardboard tube in the refrigerator aisle at the grocery store.  As I said, it was only for a moment and by the time I turned around to see the disaster in my kitchen, fall was wafting from my oven.  No offense to the Pillsbury corporation but I see your cardboard tube and I raise you Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls!


They were a labor of love and they were worth all the effort.

I think you could put a schmere of this glaze on a piece of toast and be content.


So on the debate of nuts or no nuts we decided to split one of each and try them both.  I prefer cinnamon rolls sans nuts but these, these gems will always include nuts and glaze because well, why the heck not?


And a word on browning the butter, why this is not taught in home economics class I do not understand.  Browning the butter is magic.  I first learned about browning butter for this recipe and it makes a huge difference with baked goods.  It adds a whole new dimension that transforms white puffy sugary baked goods into nutty, caramelized rustic baked goods that leave all your friends asking why your recipes come out so much better?  My reply is always the same you need to brown the butter.

Wishing you all a little bit of fall and a lovely week.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The coolest video.

I did not grow up with Thomas the Train and all his fellow train mates but I know a lot of littles who did.  These train cars will forever have a place in childhood history and in the hearts of so many, including the little boy in this amazing video.

This reminded me of all the wonderful toys I had as a little, the ones I would not leave the house without.  Enjoy! 

Wishing you all wonderful childhood memories, and a lovely day!

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