Tag Archives: pumpkins
Gentlemen…Start Your Search Engines…
Master Carvers, A Masquerade, and Some Minor Mishaps…
It’s been a rather busy weekend in Hammond River with Halloween festivities. The kids each carved a pumpkin from the garden:
On Friday night, we were invited to a Halloween party at Jim’s sister and brother-in-law’s house. We were informed that we had to come in costume. It took me a while to come up with a costume idea (not being a big Halloween fan), but I finally did:
The kids were a lot more excited about the costumes:
Our hosts, Jim’s sister, Kim, and her husband, Chris, were in the spirit…even their standard poodle, Bella, had a costume!
Jim’s other sister, Tracy, was a vampire, but had trouble getting her fangs to stay in (I hate when that happens!):
Jim’s parents looked quite cute in their outfits:
There was lots of food at the party: punch, Tracy’s “witch’s fingers” cookies, Shirley’s cupcakes, a veggie plate, and toasted pita bread to dip.
Kim had some games for us to play too: “Pin the Stake on the Vampire” was won by Chris’ mom.
“Hot Potato” involved passing a multi-layered wrapped package around to music – when the music stopped, the person holding it could unwrap it, until the music started again. The one who finished unwrapping the package got the prize. It was particularly frustrating, because when Tracy wrapped it, she went a little nuts with the duct tape! Devin won that one.
The third game was rather gruesome. We passed four brown paper bags around. Each person had to put their hand in the bag and guess which “body part” was in the bag (thank goodness we had paper towels to wipe our hands on). Jim’s dad and I tied for the win with three correct answers out of four: eyeballs, brains, ears, and intestines. I won a bar of pretty-smelling soap.
Then it was time for some Musical Chairs…that’s where things got a little wild. We started with eleven players:
Devin won that one too…no surprise after hip-checking me off the chair!
Brianna started having some serious allergy issues, and we soon realized that the feathers on her fairy wings were real…we took them out of her immediate vicinity, and she started to feel better. Chris had some fun with the wings though:
We all had a great time!
On Saturday, I had promised to look after Elise while Kaylee and Scott went to a wedding: the wedding was at one, and the reception was at five. Elise is almost fourteen months old, and I’ve only looked after her one other time. I had told Kaylee to give me a detailed list of instructions…it had been 11 years since I’d had a kid that age! Hope immediately volunteered to be in charge of diaper changes…Kaylee uses cloth diapers for the baby.
Elise arrived, with her playpen and a big bag full of stuff. Kaylee and Scott both looked very nice – Kaylee in a skirt, and Scott wearing a suit. We had lunch and put Elise in the playpen for a nap. Anna and Hope lay down with her in the family room and she finally fell asleep after about an hour. She only slept for about an hour-and-a-half, and she was up again.
I was quite proud of myself that I managed to get Elise to sit still for an entire reading of Helen Lester’s Score One for the Sloths…Helen Lester has been one of the kids’ favourite children’s authors since we discovered her Tacky the Penguin book at the library when Anna was little.
After a supper where Elise sampled a little bit of Jim’s delicious chicken stew (made with rutabagas and carrots from the garden, as well as potatoes, onions, corn and peas), we played a little more, and then got her ready for bed. She was still awake when Kaylee called about 8:00 and said they were getting ready to leave the reception. Fifteen minutes later, Scott called in a bit of a panic: “I need the number for the police. I just hit a deer!” After determining that he and Kaylee were okay, I gave him the number for the Rothesay Regional Police. He was feeling terrible – the deer was still on the side of the road. At least the car wasn’t too badly damaged.
Kaylee and Scott arrived a few minutes after that. We packed up Elise’s stuff and they went home.
This afternoon, they came back to show us Elise’s Halloween costume. She was an adorable Snow White:
Of Pumpkins, Presidents, Pooches, and Puddin’ Pop…
Here’s a wrapup of the last few days in Hammond River:
1. Regular readers of this blog know that I had a really big garden this year…we had frost last week (the rest of the tomatoes are ripening in the basement under newspaper), so it’s time to start bringing stuff in before the snow starts to fly. I spent Sunday harvesting the remaining pumpkins and squash, and stored them in the basement…the kids each want to carve a pumpkin for Halloween (Hope’s already decided on Mickey Mouse for hers). I also brought in about eight rutabagas, and cooked them in the oven. Loads of rutabagas, carrots, and beets still in the ground…they’ll be okay for a while.
3. Hope was in a baking mood when she got up on Sunday…she wanted to make muffins, so she found a recipe for Cinnamon Muffins and we made them. They were yummy…tasted like those little cinnamon donuts we used to have when we were kids! We used wooden skewers to spear the muffins and roll them in the cinnamon/sugar mix…way less messy that way.
4. We’ve had an issue with rodents in the house again this fall…Dad has set traps all over the basement, and a few baits as well. He’s caught four star-nosed voles in the traps, which he then puts into the compost bin outside…he reported this morning that that latest one he’d caught had been partially eaten! Can’t wait to see that one in the bin – NOT! Dad really wants to catch the critter that’s running through the walls of his bedroom and keeping him awake at night…he thinks it’s one of our squirrels or chipmunks.
5. Dad has a couple of good friends who usually stop by on Saturday mornings at the bookstore for a chat…he mentioned that they hadn’t been around for a while, because they were away on a trip to Washington, D.C. Dad said that he’d encouraged them to stop in at the White House to see if the President had received the Abraham Lincoln bookends he’d sent him. What???
“When did you do that, Dad?”
“Three or four months ago,” he answered.
“I’m surprised they haven’t sent you a Thank You note by now,” I said.
“Oh, there was a box to tick if you wanted an acknowledgement, but I didn’t check it off.” That’s my Dad…he’d read somewhere that Abe Lincoln had been a hero of Obama’s (as he is for my dad), and decided to send him his bookends, which he’d had for many years.
6. I smelled a skunk just before I was about to let Jake out into the back yard the other night (I decided to take him out on the leash out front instead!)…we saw one dead in the road near our driveway yesterday…reminds me of a song!
7. We took the Toyota to Canadian Tire yesterday to have new snow tires put on…while we were waiting, we visited Jim’s parents. The guy at the service counter told us it would be an hour-and-a-half, and they were true to their word. Jim is quite excited about the new tires…we were “testing” them on the highway on the way home…he took his hands off the steering wheel momentarily: “Look…no more wobbling!” he said. I was disappointed when we got home to find that Jake hadn’t folded the two big piles of laundry in the family room…we may have to look into trading him for a more industrious canine! He can undo zippers on lunchbags…why couldn’t he fold laundry?
8. Last night, we had Puddin’ Pop (Elise) and her mom and dad over for supper…it was Scott’s 27th birthday. Scott had grown a beard in honour of his birthday. I had roasted a couple of small chickens, made mashed potatoes, corn, and a Whipped Rutabaga Puff with the rutabaga from the garden. It was amazing and easy: just threw some eggs and bread crumbs in with the cooked rutabaga, and used the mixer to whip it. We had two cakes: Black Forest, and a Cinnamon Coffee Cake for the non-chocolate lovers (Devin and Hope). Jim and the girls got the cakes ready in the kitchen, lit the candles and carried them in. I brought up the rear, and started counting 1-2-3, and burst into the Happy Birthday song…all by myself! They’d gone ahead without me, and had already sung it. Everybody (except me) got a good laugh out of it!
After supper, I played with Elise a bit…she had a great time grabbing my glasses off my face and trying to get hold of my dangly earrings. I’ve missed her since I last saw her two weeks ago. We’re looking after her on Saturday while Kaylee and Scott go to a wedding. I told Kaylee she’d better have instructions for me: have never put on a cloth diaper in my life! I’ll have to remember not to throw them away! Hope will help me with that, though…
9. Thanks to the Internet, I finally have an idea for Halloween costumes for Jim and I for his sister’s party Friday night…big secret…will post photos later.
10. My friends have been having some good fortune this week: my buddy, Guy, was elected to his municipal council in Lavigne, Ontario; my buddy, Jamie, was in a BMW Mini TV commercial (click on his name to see it – he’s the bald guy trying to break the egg); and my blogging friend, Lin, got to meet David Sedaris who talked to her while autographing two books (click on her name to read all about it)!
Two Thanksgivings, A Quarantine, A Helicopter Attack, and A Giant Pumpkin…
So, this was our Thanksgiving weekend…it was a busy one. On Sunday night, we went to Jim’s parents for a combination Thanksgiving/birthday dinner for Jim’s son, Devin. He turned 17 on October 4th.
We had a lovely meal: turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, rolls, green beans, gravy, cucumber/tomato slices, and a delicious turnip puff that Jim’s sister, Kim, made. I had two helpings!
Unfortunately, Jim’s dad only joined us for a few minutes, sitting way over in the corner by himself…he was suffering from a bad cold, and didn’t want to give it to anyone. He had spent the past few days in the basement. Kim’s husband, Chris, pointed out that Gordon couldn’t have been suffering too much…he had the big screen TV, computer, and a fridge nearby. Gordon came up to watch Devin open his presents: he got some clothes, lots of money, and a remote control helicopter that Jim bought for him. It was fun watching it fly around, although it didn’t fly very high on the first night…it wasn’t fully charged.
Dessert was yummy…my blueberry pie, Jim’s mom’s pumpkin cheesecake, and purchased carrot cake for the birthday boy, who doesn’t like chocolate. Jim’s sister, Tracy, had to wait for a minute to bring Devin’s cake out…Jim wasn’t ready with his camera…
Kim invited us to her Halloween party: “Everybody has to wear a costume!” I have no idea what I’m going to be. Halloween isn’t my favourite holiday…Jim the smartass suggested I go as a “party pooper.”
We got home just in time for Amazing Race. I was so happy it turned out to be a non-elimination leg…I like Kevin and his dad!
I woke up Monday morning feeling like a dump truck had driven over me several times…my cold was back! Jim didn’t feel much better. I dragged my butt out of bed, made a bagel and tea for breakfast, and started getting the stuffing made for the turkey. Kaylee, Scott and Elise were coming over for Thanksgiving dinner.
I got the turkey into the oven by noon…then I went out to the garden to harvest some vegetables for dinner. I got a couple of Red Kuri squash, some beets, three rutabagas, and some mutant-looking carrots (average 4″ long, but fat little things).
I took a little break and sat down at my computer to check e-mail and Facebook. Jim and the kids were playing with Devin’s birthday present again. It went really high – almost up to the ceiling! I was sitting there minding my own business when I felt a breeze over my head…a couple of seconds later, there was a helicopter entangled in my hair!
Jim swears it was an accident: “It just lost power!” I think he was secretly getting revenge for the times I injured him earlier in the week…an elbow to the nose (“It hurt for two days!”), and a whack to the temple with a snow brush handle (we were cleaning out the car, and he asked me to hand it to him so he could put it in the trunk). I apologized profusely, both times, but warned Jim that there probably would be a third time…these things always happen in threes!
It took a few minutes to free my hair from the vehicle nesting in it. It was at that point I decided it would be a good idea to have a shower.
Devin and Brianna went to their mom’s house for their second Thanksgiving dinner of the weekend.
Kaylee and family arrived about 4. Elise is now taking a few steps on her own, and asking what everything is. I didn’t have much time to spend with her though, because I was busy cooking (and also didn’t want to reinfect her with another cold).
Kaylee wanted some pictures of Elise with a pumpkin, so everybody trooped outside, leaving me in the kitchen with the food. Jim took the photos below:
Apparently, Elise couldn’t wait for supper. She also sampled some fall leaves…I let her take the pumpkin home, since she’d already licked it!
Our Thanksgiving dinner was also delicious, if I do say so myself! In addition to the turkey, stuffing, and vegetables from the garden, we had whipped potatoes, broccoli, and corn. Jim made his Grammy’s dressing (which Hope loves), gravy, and a sauce for the beets.
Elise was falling asleep, so Kaylee and Scott left before dessert…I sent them home with a blueberry pie. The rest of us ate pumpkin pie…it was yummy! Devin and Brianna made it home just in time!
Jim and I packed the leftover food into lunch containers…Jim is planning a turkey stew for his night to cook…looking forward to it!
Little Wendy Pie-Maker…
On Friday, I was home waiting for the carpenter to come to finish installing the new drywall and tub surround in the bathroom. I decided that since it was our Thanksgiving weekend, that I would make pies for the occasion. The first step was the pumpkin…I went out the the garden and chose the smallest one (the only one that would fit into the microwave)…it was about 10″ tall and 8″ in diameter.
I put it into the microwave to soften it up so I could cut it in half and scoop out the seeds…then I put it in the oven and baked it.
The carpenters commented on the wonderful smell…I told them I was making pumpkin pie from scratch, and they were suitably impressed. I also got a couple of bags each of blueberries (from our bushes) and blackberries (picked in my secret patch on the West Side) out of the freezer. I scooped the meat out of the pumpkin…four cups of fresh pumpkin!
Unfortunately, the carpenters took about four hours to finish the bathroom…procrastination kicked in…I didn’t think it would be a good idea to make piecrust near where so much drywall dust was flying around, so I decided to wait until Saturday to make the actual pies. I had also promised to make “West Side Wendy’s Brownies” for a reunion of my old call center workers on Saturday night.
The bathroom looked 100 times better when they were done (and they cleaned up pretty well after themselves too!).
Saturday morning, I got up bright and early. After a quick breakfast, I started baking right away. The brownies were first…two pans of deliciousness which everyone who tastes them raves about.
Then I started the pies. I found a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for a pumpkin pie that used 16 oz. of pumpkin (it said it made one single crust pie)…I figured that if I doubled it, that would use all of my four cups of pumpkin, and I’d have two pies. Wrong! I ended up with enough filling for three big pies and one small pie!
There were also way more berries than I thought…once I had them in the bowls with the sugar and flour, I realized I’d overestimated in taking out two bags of each kind.
I sent Jim to the Co-Op for more lard. Another recipe of piecrust was necessary.
So, after eight hours of baking, I ended up with two pans of brownies and eight pies: four pumpkin, two blueberry, one blackberry, and one blueberry/blackberry. We’ll take a blueberry one to Jim’s mom’s today for our combo Thanksgiving/Devin’s birthday dinner (he turned 17 on October 4th). On Monday, we’ll have the other blueberry one and a pumpkin one for our own Thanksgiving dinner with Kaylee, Scott and Elise.
Jim and I had fun at the reunion last night. Not many people made it because of the holiday weekend, but the food was great (anybody who knows me knows how much I love to eat!). It was nice to see my old co-workers, many of whom I hadn’t seen for a year. We talked about having another gathering in February…looking forward to it!
Today’s Post is Brought to You by the Letter P…
Since the letter P seems to have popped up a lot around our place in the last week, I decided it would be pleasurable to post about it:
1. Last Saturday, Jim, Anna and I went blackberry picking at my private patch on the West Side (Hope preferred to purchase packages at McAllister Place instead). Jim ploughed purposefully through the prickles, blazing new paths. We picked a full plastic peanut pail of blackberries in about an hour-and-a-half. Anna was perfectly fine until she was pursuing a particularly perfect bunch of berries, lost her balance, and pitched into the prickly purgatory. She suffered painful scratches which we later applied Polysporin to. I pointed out that I had perspiration pouring down my posterior – Anna said that was a piece of information she’d prefer not to have been privy to. After picking up Hope, we stopped at Jim’s parents’ to pick up a ladder. Jim wanted to put up the new ceiling fan we’d purchased at the yard sale in St. Martins.
2. This week, I took my persnickety pupils to finish up shopping for school supplies. Hope got purple wedge heels (Anna bought them for her), which later caused her to fall and tear a hole in her pants. It’s a pity that it is no longer prevalent to patch jeans! Hope also got purple sneakers (she protested when I prevailed on her to purchase size 10 – said she didn’t want to have “clown feet!”). Jim got Hope a purple plaid bookbag, and purple plaid sneakers for Brianna at Payless.
3. Jake, our poodle/schnauzer got a haircut this week. The job was somewhat patchy, as the guard kept falling off the trimmer. He made me laugh yesterday when I caught our pooch perched on the arm of the chair perusing the kids who were playing outside on the trampoline. His back legs were sticking straight out…I tried to photograph him, but he defeated my purpose by turning around to look at me!
4. We’ve been snacking on foods that start with the letter P this week. Jim and I both like peanuts (Jim eats barbecue, I prefer honey-roasted). Jim got a big bag of mixed chips – he doesn’t like pretzels, so he leaves them for the Pretzel Princess (that would be me). I also love glasses of pineapple juice over ice.
5. Wednesday afternoon, I stopped at the post office to pick up postage stamps. I had to pass the Big Brothers/Big Sisters book sale, so I purchased another pile of books. We have a customer named Phil who likes all things outdoors…several of the books made me think of him. As I passed through the City Market, I actually ran into Phil, and told him I bought books for him. He put aside several as he was waiting for a payment to pass at the bank. He plans to order a pricey publication on fishing when his check clears.
6. On Wednesday, I pissed off a passionate patriotic person with something I posted. I pouted for a couple of days…my proclivity to post was temporarily paralyzed. I am partial to the person I perturbed, so we both apologized profusely for provoking each other and the precarious predicament has passed. Everything is peachy!
7. On Friday, we called the plumber because we had a leaking pipe in the kids’ bathroom. When I talked to him on the phone, he proposed that sometimes pinholes in the pipe cause leaks. I proclaimed that the problem was probably bigger than a pinhole, as Jim had seen quite a puddle of water in our basement. The plumber made a big hole in the wall, and replaced the tap. He didn’t have the right part to make it possible to have a shower.
8. On Friday evening, I was in the garden when I perceived a couple of pink poppies peeking out amongst the profusion of plants: these were the third and fourth ones I have seen (the first one was in Dad’s pea patch). I did not plant poppies this year (although I purchased seeds for them). I had been pulling perplexing weeds that I couldn’t identify in any listing of pervasive plants prevalent in our province (after poring over some publications on plant identification, I became privy to the name of another pretty weed we have: purslane). Upon examining the leaves of these poppies, I realized they were my mystery weed!
9. Remember the pumpkin that was growing on the fence? Well, it’s even more portly now! The biggest ones are starting to turn orange. Our beans continue to be prolific, particularly the Blue Jay, Mennonite Purple Stripe, and Royal Burgundy beans, which all have purple on them. It’s doubtful whether our peppers will ever produce. We’re still waiting for the purple Brussels sprouts too.
10. We’re having people over for supper tonight, my little Puddin’ Pop, Elise, and her parents. I’m looking forward to seeing her…it’s been at least three weeks! I had planned to have pork in the Crock Pot, and mashed potatoes, but got a beef roast out of the freezer instead…I must have been preoccupied!
Hammond River Harvest…
I spent most of yesterday in my garden…it seems the work never ends! I pulled out some of the lettuce greens that had gone to seed, picked beans, blueberries, black raspberries, zucchini, swiss chard, beet greens, and more lettuce for supper. I also harvested my first yellow cherry tomatoes!
Tonight, I will make chocolate zucchini bread with the zucchini I picked. All the squash and pumpkins are doing amazingly well.
The Autumn Beauty sunflowers have surpassed the height given on the package by several feet…it said they were 5′ high, and many of mine are 8′. This is with no fertilizer whatsoever…I wonder how big they’d be if I’d put manure in the soil?
I’m really excited that my first broccoli head is nearly ready to harvest…I’m trying to hold off until it’s a little bigger.
Also imminent is the harvest of the first rutabaga.
I still have a little while to wait on the cauliflower and the purple Brussels sprouts.
My shell beans are coming along well too.
I will harvest these later in the fall when they have dried, and then use them for chili and other soups.
I’m off to make tonight’s supper – corn on the cob (from the store), and chicken thighs, with green beans from the garden.