October Round-Up!

October was a month of transition for Monique and me.  After struggling against a dipping economy for two years, our employer was finally forced to shut its doors after thirty-six years.  The weeks leading up to the final day were stressful and often confusing, as we were never quite sure when our final day was coming.  So, for a month that traditionally kicked-off the beginning of our seasonal baking and crafting, more focus was spent on wrapping up loose ends at work and worrying about the next day while we were at home.

Now that it’s over for both of us, we’re moving on into new adventures.  Monique is enjoying her time off while she looks for a new job and I start my new employment tomorrow.  I will miss seeing her face every day, but I am grateful that working there brought me to her.  I’ve learned so much from Monique these past four-and-a-half years, and not just about baking and cooking!  She’s taught me volumes about having faith in one’s self, one’s family, and one’s friends.  Teaming up with her has kept me blogging and writing, and I’ve learned to stop wondering whether or not I can accomplish something.  I try!

So, even though we no longer share a day-job, Monique and I intend to continue on with our cooking and crafting the best we can as we adjust to new lifestyles.

And now, despite all that?  I did manage to do a few holiday-themed things this October.

Halloween bark!

Halloween bark!

This stuff is preeeeeetty tasty on top of being colorful and Halloween-y.  It’s very, very simple and you can substitute out ingredients depending on what you have.  You’ll find the basic recipe here, from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Apple Crisp in a Mini Pumpkin

Pumpkins & Apples 006

Tiny pumpkins for tiny pies! Eeee!

Topped with homemade whipped cream!  (And taken with an iPhone in bad lighting because my dinner guests were waiting!)

Topped with homemade whipped cream! (And taken with an iPhone in bad lighting because my dinner guests were waiting!)

What I adore about this recipe is that it’s broken down per serving.  Only have three pumpkins?  You can know exactly how many apples/oats/etc you need for each!  Not only is the filling delicious, but the sides of the pumpkin grow soft during baking (despite what they may look like on the surface — dig down!) and are lovely.  You can find the recipe here, from The View from the Great Islands. 

Milk Jug Ghosts!

You know what isn’t scary? Upcycling!

You know what isn’t scary? Upcycling!

If you’re on Pinterest (and you probably are), you must have seen the milk jug ghosts pin floating around all month.  For a household with three milk drinkers, we tend to go through these jugs quickly.  So, I gave notice that we’re not to send them straight to the recycling bin, but instead leave them with a face drawn on them and I’d add them to our line-up!  Here we only have a few, but by the end I think we had twelve!

Many people have posted instructions for the milk jug ghosts, but I’ll send you to the Krazy Coupon Lady for the how-to.

. . .

Hope everyone had a happy, candy-filled, costumed, pumpkin-overloaded Halloween!  Enjoy your weekend… and try not to think about how we only have 50 days left until Christmas!

Tuesday Tip Day: How to Block a Scarf

So, you’ve spent all month working on a complicated scarf.  You’ve spent long weekend hours camped in front of Netflix switching between bad zombie movies and Gossip Girl.

You even take it to Canada with you, knitting your mornings away while you watch the horses peacefully graze at the foot of the mountain. (Yes, I'm bragging.)

You barely make the deadline, finishing one day before the day you’d like to show off your scarf.  And then, after the last stitch, you look down and realize your scarf looks like this:


Don’t panic.  We can fix this.  It’s just a little matter of blocking the scarf!

Now, until last week I thought I had to run out and purchase special blocking mats and blocking pins for the occasion.  KnitPicks sells a set of mats for $20, plus shipping, as well as a set of pins for $5 or so.  That’s nearly thirty dollars just to make sure your scarf is straight.  I’m not knocking KnitPicks, as you may remember I adore their needles, but I wasn’t about to spend that kind of money when there’s an easier and cheaper way.

1.  Wet your item.  Run it under cool water and use a towel to twist out the excess moisture after you’ve given it a really good rinse.

2.  Get some towels.  Some people use towels and their beds to lay out their item, but since I finished my scarf near bedtime I decided to just use the floor.

3.  Get some pins!  Preferably the type with colored heads so you can find them at 5 a.m. the next day while your shower is heating up and you know you want to go to work sporting your handiwork.

4.  Eyeball it.  I know some people need perfect widths and lengths.  All I can think is, it’s a scarf.  It will do some more of it’s own stretching when you wear it the next day.  So, use a billion pins if you have to, and start stretching it out on the towels.  With my design, I pulled it until I liked the way the spider looked and then kept the width consistent the rest of the way. This design was a little tricky, what with the controlled unraveling at the end, but I think I managed it well enough.  It’s supposed to look like a crazy mess at the end.  I think “crazy mess” is a good way to describe this scarf, anyway.

Some people would think this was a mistake. Little do they know, I worked hard for this chaos.

5.  Let it dry.  Overnight, if you can.  Just walk away.  Go on Ravelry or something.  Start planning November’s project.  That’s what I did.

6.  And, the next morning?  Unpin in and ooh and aah over your creation!  You made that!  It looks so sharp, too!

I really love the seed stitch border.

....and the slow way it falls apart.

This scary Ring-esque blur is brought to you by Wesley, the most annoying cat in the world. He's also cute, which is why we haven't offered him to the wolves yet.

I hope you all made scary Halloween-ish projects this October!  And that you finished in time!  This was a push for me and I was so scared about blocking.  Trust me, it’s the easiest thing in the world.  Plus, I felt like I was actively doing something even though all the scarf was doing was sitting there and air-drying.

Happy Halloween!  And Happy November 1st!  If you haven’t signed up for NaNoWriMo yet, please do!  And if you don’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about, please head over there, you aspiring author, you.  Let’s be NaNoWriMo buddies.  Please?


The third one from the left is me. My husband carved a knitting pumpkin! Happy Halloween!

Meatless Mondays: Yay! Pumpkin Curry Soup!

With only a week left before Halloween, I see no reason we can’t continue the pumpkin obsession.   Besides, pumpkins don’t just belong to October, there’s a whole extra thirty-something days in the month following that could use more than just turkey and stuffing.  I think I’ll try to sneak a pumpkin dish on the table this Thanksgiving and see if anyone notices..

But anyway, on to pumpkin soup!  I’ve never cooked with curry powder.  I didn’t even own it until this recipe demanded I go to the supermarket.  So, for my first attempt at curry, I’m pretty pleased!  It’s a little spicy for my delicate, white-bread mouth, but those of you who aren’t wimps are sure to enjoy it.

I tweaked this recipe from Allrecipes to make it vegan:

Recipe: Pumpkin Curry Soup


  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance (or butter)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin (You can substitute about two cups of fresh pumpkin if you have it on hand. Alas, I did not.)
  • 6 to 8 ounces of unsweetened soy milk (Start with six and see if you like the consistency. If you add too much, it’ll get watery. Also, if you’re anti-soy, you’re welcome to try anything, but I imagine a thicker liquid is better. Almond milk would probably not work very well here.)


  1. Melt “butter” in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in curry powder, salt and pepper; cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add broth and pumpkin; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in soy milk. Transfer mixture to food processor or blender; cover. Blend until smooth. Serve warm.

Also, bonus points if you serve it in a pumpkin. My husband "happily" hallowed out this pumpkin just for pictures. I'm pretty sure I heard a sigh and something along the lines of: "All this just to try and get on Foodgawker?" Yes, honey. Just wait until it's time for Christmas-themed dishes..

Now it’s your turn:  What’s your favorite pumpkin-themed food?

Saturday Night Hooking: Yay! Pumpkins!

You know what I love more than pumpkins?


Okay, that may be a little extreme, considering the love one feels for a squash should not equal the love one feels for family.

Still.. they’re so cute and orange!  And tasty.  Let’s not forget tasty.

I’ve tried to trace my fondness for this bulbous autumn vegetable to try to find a source, but I feel that it’s a combination of a few things: spending several of my early years in a small town outside San Francisco called Half Moon Bay and, perhaps, Jack Pumpkinhead from the “critically acclaimed” (and I say that with all the love and sarcasm I can muster) 1985 film Return to Oz.  If you’re a child from the 80’s, enjoy talking moose heads and fearless chickens, this movie is straight up your alley.

There he is, on the right. I'll wait here while you add it to your Netflix queue. Won't take but a second. And look at Tick Tock! So shiny and handsome! I could gush further, but this is about pumpkins not childhood cinema guilty pleasures. But, perhaps if I knit my own Scarecrow I could bring this movie up again another time...

Anyway, there’s a picture hanging on my mother’s wall of little-pig-tailed-me crouching in a pumpkin patch with the biggest grin on my face.  This year, on our way up to visit my husband’s family for Canadian Thanksgiving, we stopped at a sprawling pumpkin patch in Washington to browse their knick-knacks and take photos of pumpkins.  Well.  That’s why I stopped.  I think my husband stopped because I was clawing at the door and shouting, “LOOKTHEREAREPUMPKINSSTOPTHECARSTOPTHECAAAAAAR.”

I'm a bit bigger in this picture versus the one on my mother's wall, but you get the idea.

That's road fatigue on his face. Also, the general loathe of anything farm related. He's a good sport!

In August, for my birthday, my friends gifted me a few balls of yarn and a pattern to make a “Precious Pumpkin Beret” by Anna Connors (purchased from her Etsy store).  We work in construction so we joked about how the shade of orange they picked up was suitable for a Safety Hat and, not-so-secretly, one of them hoped I’d hate the color and want to donate the orange to making tiny desk pumpkins all October.  I did donate, in the end, but only once I’d finished not one, but two pumpkin berets.

When you see these pumpkins again, they will be grossly mutilated and burning from the inside.  I mean, carved, smiling and sitting at our doorstep.

When you see these pumpkins again, they will be grossly mutilated and burning from the inside. I mean, carved, smiling and sitting at our doorstep.

This may be the first thing I’ve ever made where size made a difference.  Scarves are scarves — sometimes they’re shorter and sometimes they’re longer, but they still work just the same.  And if the scarf ends up being shorter than I planned, I just give it to a shorter person to make up for the inches and start again.  The one I made first is on the left.  The yarn weight may have been slightly lower than what was called for, so it came out a little small on me but adorable on Monique.  So, I made a larger one which I think is a tad too large, but is still acceptable.  Also, instead of Safety Vest Orange I went with a Lion’s Brand skein of “Wildfire.”  I added a few rows to make it droop more in the back as well.  If I really wanted to wear it day-to-day, I’d probably accept these as the first two steps of the Goldilocks Method and do one more, using that weight of yarn and not adding any rows.  Then it would be just right.  But it’s a pumpkin beret and I’m running out of Fall here, so we’re leaving it at that.

I'm especially fond of the color changes.


Here they are, side by side, so you can see what a difference yarn weight can make in a project!

We did end up adopting a baby pumpkin from that farm in Washington.  We smuggled him across the Canadian border, too.  On the way back we declared him, though, because we had bigger things to smuggle.  No, not drugs or firearms, but a gift from my mother-in-law: a full bag of sheered wool, fresh off the sheep.  But that’s a story for another day.

His name is Pascal. He's the most well-traveled mini-pumpkin of his time (except for those grown far away and trucked in to be dumped in supermarket bins). Pascal travels in style.

Friday Feasts: Chewy Caramel Mystery Cookies

I associate fall with smell good things – like the smell of crisp weather and baked treats in the oven.  I just want to stay home and bake and bake and bake.  But, I also have to work – so there’s that too.

I’ve been subscribing to Martha Stewart’s Food Everyday magazine for the last couple of years.  It’s small and cute.  I use the magazine for food ideas more than anything.  To be honest, mostly everything I’ve made by her is  just alright.  I know all her recipes have been tested over in over in test kitchens,  but they aren’t my favorite.  I’d say I’ve gotten about three good recipes that I’ve made over and over.  But, I love the magazine for ideas.  And I also love the fact that each month is based on what’s in season.

Have I told you my husband is a sweet junkie?  They say opposites due attract.  I’m not into the sweet thing.  I’d rather eat something fried.  Him and I do not like the same sweets – AT ALL!  I like Jello and Cool Whip, he likes chocolate, chocolate cake with ice cream.  I love raspberry thumbprint cookies and I’ll eat one maybe two.  He likes cake batter cookies and will eat a batch in two days.



It’s kind of funny.  I can go through a magazine half a dozen times and see something different each time.

So, I saw these Chewy Caramel Mystery Cookies and thought he would gobble them right up.  They’re filled with three different types of candy and the base is very buttery.

My teeth hurt just reading the ingredients.

Chewy Caramel Mystery Cookies

Adapted From:  Food Everyday A Martha Stewart Magazine – October 2011


3 cups of all-purpose flour spooned (spooning vs. scooping from the container makes a huge difference)

1 tsp of salt

1 1/4 tsp of baking soda

1 cup of unsalted butter – room temperature

1 cup of packed light-brown sugar (dark is okay too)

2 large eggs – room temperature

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 cup of soft caramel candies – about 20 cut in half (I cut them into fourths)

1 cup of roughly chopped chocolate candy bars such as Mr. Goodbars (I think Snickers or Milkyways would work good too)

3/4 cup of M&Ms (I used the peanut butter kind)


Preheat oven at 350 F with racks in upper and middle thirds.  In a large bowl mix the flour, salt, and baking soda.  Beat butter and sugar with electric beaters or stand mixer until pale, about three minutes.  Beat in eggs one at a time, scrapping down bowl as needed.  Add vanilla.  Add flour mixture a third at a time until completely combined.  Fold in chopped candies.  Using a large cookie scoop, drop dough 2 inches apart on lined parchment paper baking sheets.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately press in M&M’s.  Rotate baking sheets and bake for another 8 minutes.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack.  Store in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

I gave my husband a freezer Ziploc bag full of these things to take to work with him to share with his coworkers.  I text messaged him and asked how many he’s had so far.  He replied with five!  I guess they were pretty good.