Just in time for the annual onslaught of trick-or-treaters, the candy has been purchased.
I don't know how we got started using that wooden bowl. It's really heavy which makes it hard to hold while you try and open the door before the goblins knock it down. But it's the biggest bowl we have and it allows the candy to get spread out so the kids can see what all their options are. It's important to get candy you like on Halloween.
Tonight Chris and I are engaging in the annual candy competition ourselves. Last year it was the Rolo versus the Milk Dud. This time around two of my personal favorites are going head to head. The Twix takes on the Kit Kat. We've got plenty of supplies. I have a feeling it may take several tastings to be certain of our choices. These fun size bars are just itty bitty.
I finished The Leopard on Friday and am sad knowing that I have said good-by to Inspector Harry Hole for awhile. I think this novel, which was released in 2009, is the latest in that series so I am hopeful that the next one will be coming soon. If any of you are personal friends with Jo Nesbo please tell him his greatest fan awaits the next installment. If you haven't read any Jo Nesbo... I don't know what you are waiting for.
After several crime fiction novels I decided it was time to head back to the mountains of Kentucky to see what was up in Big Stone Gap. I started Big Cherry Holler this weekend. I didn't think I was going to really like this series but found myself settling in to the town and getting to know the characters in the first book. This one is no different. It's good to find out what Ave Maria and Jack Mack and Etta and Pearl and Iva Lou have been up to.
Has anyone read J.K. Rowlings new book? I just saw the review from the New York Times. It did not make me want to run out and get it. Meanwhile, I have reserved Ken Follett's Winter of the World from the library. I am the 10th person in line for the audiobook. I figure I ought to be getting a notice for that about March. Happily, I have plenty of titles to keep me busy until then.
I don't know what I like best. Saying I am a soup-maker, using the immersion blender, or just knowing I am going to have the best lunch ever for the next 5 days.
Add a few mini saltine crackers, an apple or some grapes, and you are good to go. Recipe below in case you want to try it. The only thing I changed was using Jameson's instead of brandy, which I didn't have. When your last name is Mulvenon you are never out of Irish Whiskey.
Stay tuned. I am NOT done making soup. If you have a favorite I should try, I am going to want to hear about it.
We talked Angie into going to starbucks after running errands yesterday. She insisted that she did not want anything. No coffee. No tea. No treat. That did not stop her from picking up the fork and eating the frosted end of my half of the lemon pound cake that Dottie and I were splitting.
She tasted both my pumpkin spice latte and the salted caramel mocha that Dottie got. She proclaimed them "too sweet". But she drank about 1/3 of each of ours before she came to that conclusion. There was a butterfly flitting around inside while we were there. She tapped Dottie with her wand.
Mom said the photo of she and Dad on the car was taken by a lake in Laredo Texas. She did not remember much about the day but did tell us that her shirt had been navy blue and was her favorite. Funny the things you remember.
I used to share an office with Barb. Her mom, Ginger, used to call and remind her to plant pansies at a certain time in the fall. Then Barb would pass on the information to me. When I walked by these the other day I thought of Ginger. I'm going to have to give her a buzz and see if she can add me to the calling list.
I did not plant any this year. I almost walked right by these. But I turned around instead and got out the camera. Click. Click. It's always best to listen to your inner Ginger when she's telling you about pansies.
My sister, Dottie has a new friend. Her name is Bailey. She's her next door neighbor. Mary Ann and I are so glad that our sister has finally found the thing that she didn't even know (until now) was missing in her life. Cat Love! It's a poweful thing.
I will let you know when I am coming for a visit sister, so you can be sure and ask if she can spend the night. Kitty slumber party. Rock on.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying your pumpkins at a grocery store.
Schaake's pumpkin patch. A Lawrence Kansas original.
Where you might find a pumpkin cairn.
This is Angie and Ray way back around 1954. Before any of us kids came along and got in the way of their stylish looks.
Tomorrow Angie turns 84 and Ray would have been 80 this coming Sunday. She and Dottie are coming over for dinner on Saturday so we can celebrate. Chris is making shrimp pasta. I'm going to open up a good bottle of cabernet, and after a glass or two maybe she'll tell us about the day this photo was taken.
For the last 8 or 9 years I have preferred a pumpkin pie that has pecans and brown sugar incorporated into the filling or on the top. I think it's because I love pumpkin pie but needed something to pump up the flavor just a bit more. Those days are over.
That is because I have found a pumpkin pie with enough impact to stand on its own. With enough concentrated rich pumpkin flavor, the right amount of sweetness, and a texture that is smooth but not custardy. It is the perfect pumpkin pie for me.
In case you want to try it, I am enclosing the filling part of the recipe below. The only thing different about the crust is you bake it before you put the warm filling in. Pumpkin pie with a non-soggy bottom. What could be better? Nothing. That's what.
While there are still leaves on the trees I feel it is my duty to continue to show them to you.
I also experimented with pumpkin baking today. At 9:57 pm the pie is still cooling on the table. Too hot to cut. I'll let you know tomorrow how it turned out. When I was looking for that butternut squash soup recipe last weekend I ran across a new formulation for pumpkin pie.
There was a bit of a ruckus outside tonight.
Behold the "chopped salad verde". I am going to try and re-create it this weekend.
I don't think the salad itself will present any problems. The ingredients are pretty straight forward. Pasta shells, avocado, tomatoes, spinach, and vella dry jack cheese. The dressing will be the challenge. It's tossed with this crazy-good sweet pea vinaigrette. I had never thought of making a vinaigrette with peas in it before. Until now.
If you are not up for the challenge of making this yourself, just drive over to Lawrence Kansas and go to the Free State Brewery on Massachussets street. Be prepared for goodness.
On the way home from work Tuesday night I took 115 pictures with my Nikon Coolpix S9300. I took these photos without looking, just shooting out of the car as I was driving home. Once I got home and looked at what I had, I deleted 45 before I even downloaded them. Once they were on the computer, I quickly eliminated another 57. From the remaining 13, I selected these.
I really can't complain.
I did it to myself.
I am once again caught up in the throes of a Jo Nesbo thriller.
Holy Crap! The Leopard is as terrifying as The Snowman. Unexpected twists when you least expect them. And the flawed Inspector Harry Hole is the epitome of the good guy character. You can't help but like him.
I finished up "The Drop" this week. The always dependable Michael Connelly gets my highest recommendation again with this one.
One of the women in my knitting class suggested Paris, my sweet : a year in the city of light (and dark chocolate) and that is by my bedside. I need a nice description of a bonbon as I drift off to sleep to keep Norwegian serial killers from invading my dreams.
I love butternut squash bisque. Whenever I see it on a seasonal restaurant menu I order it. For some reason I have never tried to make it myself. I guess I thought something that good had to be complicated. WRONG.
I searched through all the old Cooks Illustrated magazines the other day and found a recipe that sounded pretty easy so I gave it a try.
Sunday morning after the storm sky.
Then I looked to the left and saw sunlight refracted through molecules of water vapor and atmospheric particles that resulted in these bands of color. Whatever. I think rainbows are really an "olly - olly - in come free" for birds after a storm. I like less scientific explanations for naturally occuring phenomenon. I can relate to them better.
Front page headlines today.
This is how we prepared for possible tornadoes. Chris made a hearty breakfast sandwich for himself in case he might not get to eat for awhile.
Then I had some pumpkin oatmeal and searched back issues of Cooks Illustrated for a butternut squash bisque recipe, while the house shook as it rained and thundered. A perfectly perfect way to spend the day if I do say so myself.
As I was rambling around last week, my eyes were drawn to this book in the window of a second-hand bookstore. It was the colors that caught my eye first, but the title is what made it photo worthy.
I didn' t go inside and pick it up so I'm not sure what point David Campbell, Ph.D. was trying to make. From the title alone, it sounds like he wants you to be sure and have a plan so you can accomplish what you want.
I don't want to disagree with him, but I hate that aimless wandering always gets such a bad rap. My proclivity for rambling was not a natural instinct for me. I learned from the master wanderer. There is something special about an unexpected find on a random stroll that elevates the experience. You gotta try it.
P.S. I must tell you about one exception to the above advice. While hiking in the woods I am a proponent of staying on the trail - with a map. I've been lost on a hike once. I learned my lesson.
To say a food is so good that it could be called life-altering is simply ridiculous. This is a ridiculous post. There. I said it.
You know I have a thing for pumpkin. Actually, it's more than a thing, and fond isn't strong enough either. I think to say I have a deep yearning for all things pumpkin would be quite accurate. So when I was looking at flipboard the other night and came across a recipe for baked pumpkin oatmeal a weekend breakfast was planned.
I am a fan of steel cut oats already, but seriously this is the very definition of deliciousness in a bowl. It is better than pumpkin pie for breakfast. Heresy, I know. But it's true. You make it and then write me and tell me if you don't agree. Remember these pears I got at the farmers market last weekend?
Sunday morning they were at the perfect stage of ripeness to be chopped up to go on top of a bowl of baked pumpkin oatmeal, along with some greek yogurt, walnuts, and a drizzle of canadian maple syrup (thanks Jaen!)
This would be the perfect thing to serve your Thanksgiving houseguests. You can make it the night before. It's also easily transported to work. When my office mates get a load of this I will have to fight them off.
I think it's safe to say the colors are at their peak right now in my town. We've had a couple of days this week where it has been chilly but bright. Nice afternoons for trying to get some oranges to go with those yellows from last week.
I like to shuffle my feet and stir up those fall smells as I walk. I am thinking of creating a new perfume fragrance. Decomposing leaves with a hint of woodsmoke. I need to work on the name of course. Eau de Fall maybe... or something like that.
"Bras Across the Kaw" is a breast cancer awareness event that has gone on for several years in Lawrence. I missed getting a photo last year so drove to the bridge over the Kansas river this past Saturday morning to get a shot.
To say I was moved to tears would not begin to express the emotion I felt as I walked slowly across the bridge all by myself on a chilly October morning reading each of these messages. It's a powerful tribute.
I called Angie on the way home from work Friday night to see if she wanted us to cook anything special this weekend. She gave her usual "I like everything you fix" response. So I said "how about some brownies, does that sound good"? She agreed that it did indeed.
I next phoned Chris to let him know that I was going to be a bit late because I had to stop at the store on the way home because mom wanted me to make some brownies.
Saturday afternoon I found this recipe for Marbled Cheesecake Brownies and assembled ingredients. I followed the recipe almost exactly. I had to add some walnuts. Angie likes walnuts in her brownies.
This will become a stand-by for brownies in the future. Very rich and chocolatey. Not too cakey but also not too gooey. I don't like a brownie that is so gooey it seems undercooked. The cheesecake swirl is a great balance for the chocolate and they are not too sweet - even with the extra chips on top.
I forced myself to sample one to be sure they were up to par. Angies' birthday is this month. She is going to be 84. When she specifically requests that I make brownies, I have to be sure they are ok don't I?
My weekend plans include making a new cover for the pillow on the front porch. I made a perfectly good one last year but the hour or so of morning sunshine that the front porch gets daily has caused some serious fading. I selected these materials to use in the project.
Lewis is pretty sure I will need his help and is standing by.
Overnight the temperatures are supposed to drop to 30 degrees. I hope dumping the water out of the fountain out front is not as complicated as getting the fountain not to leak was. I am not going to take any kind of a chance that the water will freeze and crack my fountain. Shoot I already have my pajamas on and just realized I forgot about the birdbath out back. yoo hoo Chris.......
A friend of mine recently went to Portland, Oregon. I gave her a handy "list of things to do in Portland" I had seen on Alicia Paulsen's blog a few months back. It just happened to have a few yarn stores on it. She went to Close Knits and got me a TREAT even though I specifically told her not to get me a single, solitary thing. Well I think I told her that. I meant to anyway.
Is this not the cutest packaging you have ever seen in your entire life? Everything is folded up inside that little, almost square, envelope sort of thing, that looks like an old sewing pattern. The alpaca in the photo is Mr. Jones and he is 6 months old. I know because it says so on the back. His wool makes yarn that is beyond soft.
I think I am going to have to go to Portland myself very, very, soon. I want to meet Mr. Jones and all of his friends and relatives.
My mums are starting to bloom.
No matter. I found some orange and gold ones along with some bittersweet at the farmers market.
Last week I took care of a woman who was going home with hospice. As I entered her room the day she was leaving I heard her talking to her daughter on the phone. She was giving last minute instructions for the people who were going to deliver and set up her hospital bed at home. She said "honey, have them put that bed parallel to my big picture window in the living room, I want to be able to see the first snow flakes if I live that long".
I'm not sure Helen will be around to see the first snow. But you never know. She's pretty tough and has lived through some hard times. Either way, I will be thinking of her this year when I see those flakes, with a whole new perspective on snow.
I examined this tree from the front.
I wanted to shoot it from the top but thought the home owners would not appreciate my asking if I could get up on their roof. As it is, I am pretty sure they were wondering what the heck I was doing in their yard with their tree.