Pumpkins and Craziness Are Here Again!

It’s that time of year once again. The time when there’s that little nip of coolness in the air, especially the first thing in the morning. Even the sunlight seems crisper, giving us a hint of the chill that’s soon to follow. Yes, it’s that time of year that shuffles in the true end of summer. And shuffle is a good term, because I always go into it dragging my feet, kicking and screaming, because as I’ve said many times, I’m a spring/summer/flip flop type of girl!

And yes, I’m complaining about it again! Just like I do every year.

We can feel the chill in the air every morning, even though it sometimes warms up in the afternoon. The trees turn into a palette of new colors; bright oranges and yellows and vibrant reds. And all those leaves begin to fall all over the yard, getting raked into piles of crisp color that we adults are just a bit tempted to jump into it when no one is looking, like we did when we were children! Or, in our case, they fall in the pool and my husband has to keep scooping them out.

fall-leaves

Yes, I will admit, the colors are really pretty, and can be breathtaking, depending on where you go to see them. My husband likes to drive over to the mountains and enjoy the spectacular views. And they are pretty. But if it’s up to me, I’ll look at other people’s pictures online and think how pretty they are, and then dream about how long it’ll be until it gets warm again.

Then there are the pumpkins. Everywhere. In store and even restaurant displays, and piled along those roadside stands. Some even have carved faces already, and yes, I’ve been tempted to buy a couple of them to carve, but our son-in-law does that for the grandkids now, so we let him have all the fun.  But you can also buy craft pumpkins now that you can carve as well. No mess. But not nearly as fun. I remember when I was growing up and my uncle making the most beautiful jack-o’-lanterns. Over fifty years ago, he was painting faces and other designs on the pumpkins rather than carving them, because they’d last longer. He was certainly ahead of his time, and if he were still here today, I’m sure he’d still be doing it, only much more elaborate.

And speaking of pumpkins, don’t you think the pumpkin craze is getting a bit out of hand now? I do like pumpkin pie, but pumpkin spiced coffee? Pumpkin glazed donuts? Pumpkin flavored pop tarts? Pumpkin flavored Oreos? Please, no……I like pumpkin pie, but all the different pumpkin flavored stuff…no. Pumpkin ice cream is making its appearance now, and pumpkin flavored potato chips and pretzels. Then there are pumpkin dipped dog biscuits… Just please. No. I just can’t. And now I just heard that a local restaurant has created a pumpkin pizza! I’m not going there.

However. There are a few things that I can appreciate about this time of year.

candy_0For one, there is a LOT of candy on sale right now. And I do like to keep my candy bowl on my desk filled with all kinds of wonderful chocolate candy bars, miniature ones of course, just in case I get an urge during the day for a quick pick-me-up! Even though I’m now working from home, I still have that bowl. Chocolate can give you a pick-me-up, thank goodness, and on certain days I really need that. And I’m sure many of you reading this are like us, and buy your supply of Halloween candy based on what YOU like to eat, and not necessarily what the kids are going to want, so you can enjoy the leftovers! Is there any other way to buy it?

And I have to admit I did enjoy seeing the costumes the kids were wearing when they came to our door to get their candy. The little ones were always adorable, but now we’re not home on Halloween night, because we go to our daughter and son-in-law’s neighborhood with the grandkids and help them collect the candy! Their development goes all out, with almost everyone decorating their yards, with many of the families sitting out in their driveways with portable firepits and candy, and yes, some adult beverages. It’s one big party. Almost everyone rents a golf cart and drives around the neighborhood (they live on a golf course), and of course the golf carts are always decorated for the occasion.

And this year, our daughter will actually be wearing a Halloween costume, or her version of one. Here she is modeling it with our granddaughters who are looking forward to becoming big sisters in early January!!Expecting Halloween Costume

pauline-and-fowler-halloween1951When I was growing up, most of us dressed up for Halloween, but very seldom in anything scary or spooky. My hometown had an annual Halloween parade, with several of the main streets blocked off so the participants could march around our little business district and the county courthouse. Children and adults paraded around streets in costumes and competed for prizes, and the streets were filled with onlookers. My aunt and uncle actually won first prize in the adult division one year, dressed as Raggedy Ann and Andy. Weren’t they looking sharp? (How many of you know who Raggedy Ann and Andy are?) And if memory serves me correctly, I think some of the local churches sponsored the parade and contributed the prizes!

I can’t remember the last time I saw a Halloween parade. But they were a lot of fun! At least to us kids, and the adults who still acted like kids. It was just a fun time to enjoy ourselves, and get candy, of course!

So once again I guess I’m sort of stuck with it being fall. I can’t change it, so I have to make the most of it. I can wear my jeans and sweaters with my boots, enjoy our toasty fireplace with a glass of wine, and count the days until Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And I can remember that spring is, sort of, just around the corner!

José Guadalupe Posada

Leftover Halloween Candy?

That’s sort of like how to use leftover wine, isn’t it? Like who really has leftover Halloween candy? (or wine?)

Well, actually, we usually do have some leftover Halloween candy each year. We usually buy too much (on purpose) because we do enjoy it, and even though I am still working remotely, I do like to have a candy dish in my home office. And what better to fill it with then those miniature pieces of candy that are so tempting.

And at Halloween it’s worse, because the bags are bigger, and they’re usually on sale.

After Halloween it’s even worse because the bags are marked down even more, and if you get to the store early on the day after, you can really stock up.

When our daughter was still a child, we would sit on the floor after trick or treating with her and our neighbor’s son and sort through all the candy, making sure it was ok to eat of course, and then exchanging pieces back and forth if one kid didn’t like something and the other did. We all made out fairly well from the candy exchange and of course, ended up with a lot more in each house than we really needed to eat!

Now that our daughter is married with children of her own, we don’t have as much leftover candy from trick or treating, because we go to their house and join the granddaughters on their Halloween trick or treating. Their neighborhood goes all out for Halloween, with most of the homes decorating their yards with all manner of blow ups, giant spiders, skeletons; you name it, and it’s there somewhere. Many of the residents (and a lot of them are dressed up as well) sit outside in their driveways with their portable firepits going and hand out candy to all the kids. Some even have adult beverage treats for the adults! Those of us with children (or grandchildren in our case) usually rent golf carts from the clubhouse and decorate them, and then drive around the community with the little ones to get their goodies. It’s really a lot of fun, and much easier to ride in the golf carts than walk, because their development is so big.

But back to the candy. I’ve been hearing ads on the radio and seeing Facebook posts about where to donate leftover candy. Well, that may be good for some people, but chocolate candy is a bit pricey, and call me selfish, but I sort of want to eat it…..?

Last year, I ran across a couple of recipes for brownies using Halloween candy. And I thought, why not try it? I had a big bowl of it sitting around in the kitchen, and since I do enjoy baking I tried it. And it was really good! And easy.

So here’s the recipe for those of you who want to try something new!

Leftover Halloween Candy Brownies

  • 1 cup + 2 tbl flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • t/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup M&M’s
  • 1/2 cup chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • 1/2 cup chopped milk chocolate candy bars

OR, you may want to use a boxed brownie mix, follow those directions and just add the candy!

To make the brownies from “scratch”, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ square baking pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat brown sugar, butter, and vanilla together in a separate large bowl using an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined.

Fold in candy and press into prepared baking pan. You can add a little extra, which I did, but just don’t add too much or it won’t cook properly. Bake in pre-heated oven 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan on wire rack for ten minutes and then cut into squares.

Then enjoy! They’re delicious. In fact, I think I’ll go make some!

Dressing up the Dogs???

Yes, we do dress our dogs up on occasion, although not as much as we used to.  And yes, that does include Halloween. They’re actually not real fond of it, though, as you can imagine.

But being puppy parents to two adorable and extremely spoiled Yorkies means we really have to do things like that. It’s sort of an unwritten law for those of us who are owned by Yorkies.

I’m sure most of you have seen the cute pictures all over Facebook and Instagram of Yorkies wearing clothes, and not just for Halloween.  Those pictures look adorable. The dogs look so happy, and you think, “wow I have to have one of those dogs so I can dress him/her up, too.”

Well, that’s a good thought. However, actually doing it and taking good pictures are two entirely different matters. 

Dogs don’t like to get dressed up. At least ours don’t. Oh, they tolerate it. But they really act embarrassed. You will see a few pictures here, but you have no idea what we had to do and how long it took us to get what pictures I’m posting. How the photographers online get such photos I don’t know! Either the dogs are extremely well trained or the photographer took a thousand pictures to get that one!

A couple of years ago, however, we had a brilliant idea to enter the pups in a Halloween pet costume contest at a local restaurant. We had a couple of weeks to plan for it, and knew we had to get the perfect costumes for Benji and Chloe. 

And what could be more appropriate than bride and groom outfits! Complete with a veil for Chloe and a top hat for Benji! Online ordering is an awesome thing and Amazon had just the perfect outfits! 

But it wasn’t enough to just have them dressed for the part. We even got Chloe a “bouquet” of flowers (actually a fancy dog toy felt flower bouquet that we wouldn’t let her chew on). We also had a dog toy cake but it had birthday candles on it, so that wouldn’t work. 

Then my husband had a perfect idea! Something he knew would be just the thing to clinch the prize for the most adorable doggies in the Halloween parade! Instead of just walking them up on stage, they would make their grand entrance as “newlyweds” in their own little car.

And it just so happened that our daughter and son-in-law had a pink (of course) remote control car they’d bought for our granddaughter, and they were happy to bring it for us to use.

So we were all set! Except for the two stars of the show not being too happy about wearing their outfits! Maybe it was “pre-wedding jitters”? Or Chloe had changed her mind about her dress and wanted a different style?

Anyway, the show must go on, and so must the Halloween Pet Contest! We promised the pups we’d give them treats if they behaved, so that Sunday afternoon we all met at the restaurant, including our daughter and son-in-law and our little granddaughter (who wanted to ride in her car!) and my best friend.

Of course, the contest was held outside in a beautiful setting by the water. Picnic tables were set up and ready for participants and diners as well. There was even a special menu for the dogs to order from!

There were quite a few dogs there, all in costumes! And like Benji and Chloe, some of them didn’t seem overly happy to be dressed up either! Or maybe they were just nervous to have to go onstage. Benji was more interested in barking at the other dogs like a crazy person (or dog) and Chloe just wanted to take her dress off and run and play with them.

Maybe this wasn’t a great idea after all?

But we’d come this far, so we went for it!

All the dogs had their chance onstage.  There were some really creative costumes; dogs dressed as hot dogs, a beer can, clowns, a police officer, a scarecrow, and even a taco!

Then it was our turn. We put Chloe’s veil on her, put both dogs in the car, and held our breath as my husband controlled the car that slowly rolled along in front of the stage. And amazingly both pups stayed in the car! And everyone there loved it!

The winners were decided by audience vote. We held our breath to see who’d win. And yes, Benji and Chloe won! By one vote, but they still won! 

We were awarded a gift certificate from the restaurant (which happens to be one of our local favorites), and the pups got to order lunch from that special dog menu! 

Would we do it again? Well….that depends on the dogs. But I think they’re going with the “once is enough” answer!

Note: The restaurant is Blue Pete’s in Virginia Beach. It’s a locally owned establishment situated on a small body of water known as Muddy Creek. The atmosphere and food are great, and so are the owners!

Why Flamingos Don’t Like Halloween

You know that flamingos really like a good party. That’s evident in everything they do. But Halloween isn’t necessarily a time they enjoy, and when you think about it, their reasons really make a lot of sense!

Orange doesn’t look that good with pink, or so the flamingos think. And since Halloween colors are mostly orange and black, well, all the decorations and costumes for Halloween clash with their beautiful pink plumage. And flamingos want to always look their best!

They briefly considered this feather boa and feather hat, but decided no. Not them. Not their style.

Then they thought about Halloween costumes….and that was a big “NO” as well. After all, they just didn’t want to look scary. They totally disregarded witch costumes, skeletons, ghosts….all the traditional ideas. Flamingos are fun-loving, vivacious, and well, flamboyant birds. These outfits, although popular with their human friends, just wouldn’t do! Neither did bales of hay.

And then if they were going to have a party, well, the décor would have to be mostly orange and black with all of those Halloween type decorations….skulls, skeletons, black cats, and (horrors!) witches in those ugly drab style-less black robes and pointed hats stirring black cauldrons of steaming who knows what! No, that simply wouldn’t do. The skulls with flowers, well, that wasn’t an option either. Even an elegant-themed Halloween party would have to use some of those colors and props or it just wouldn’t work.

At least they did find a couple of cute shabby chic pink pumpkin decorations to use around the house, so they were able to at least have a little touch of “elegant” Halloween décor.

Still, they really, really wanted to have a party of some kind. They just wouldn’t call it a Halloween party.

So now what to do?

Fortunately they were able to find some pink Halloween-themed plates, even though they were for a kids’ party, so they decided to have an afternoon tea party/dessert party instead. With the option of champagne and wine, of course, rather than tea! And they were also able to find pink Halloween cookies and even a couple of pink Halloween cakes.  And they all had a lovely time.

And what will they be doing on Halloween night? Why, handing out pink wrapped candy to all the trick- or-treaters that show up at their door. And being thankful they didn’t have to put up with that traditional Halloween décor or those “tacky” costumes. After all, flamingos DO have a certain reputation of flamboyant elegance to uphold!

Photo Sources: Header Photo: redshedgardenandgitfs – 1st Row: – claires.com; the hat hive – 2nd Row: – amazon; plowandhearth; amazon – 3rd Row: via Etsy – LushsCreations; blogspot.com – 4th Row: – twinkletwinklelittleparty.com; thewondrcottage.com; blacktwine.com; via etsy; via etsy; source unknown; LaurenConrad.com