Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Rake's progress...

We can not get over how many leaves our lovely lush oak trees had been harboring over the Summer... that is until they blanketed the ground! Not some light flimsy blanket either, but akin to one of those heavy, bulky feather eiderdowns of long ago. Not one blanket either, but several blankets being laid down in succession. That damn rain doesn't help - it only escalates our problem, bringing down extra leaves and making the act of raking even harder.

We attempted to rake these leaves... and rake... and rake. We bought a tarpaulin to shift the leaves to the forest at the back of our property. We moved the leaves... moved some more... moved yet more. We built our own Rocky Mountain range of leaves - and with leaves from less than a quarter of our garden!

We sighed and started to remember the number of leaves one had to rake in an apartment: a few minutes to vacuum errant Christmas tree needles and a moment to clean up the leaves dropped from a vase of flowers. Ahhhh... them were the days.

What on earth possessed us to buy 2½ acres liberally peppered with leaf producing machines. Caveat emptor and all that - but why on earth did no one warn us about the hours... nay, days and weeks of raking ahead of us?!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Master 3 turns 4!

Our darling Master 3 turned 4 years old today. My husband and I breathed a huge sigh of relief... we managed to raise him to 4! At times we didn't think we would get this far... as he raced to an almost certain doom or as we trekked off to the ER. Our 'middle child' is frustratingly 'individual', master of his own destiny and was assured to be 'challenging' from an early age. A real conundrum, he has had some behavioral issues at school (totally within his control) yet is the most loving, compassionate and sharing child. He continually astounds, annoys, aggravates and amazes us. We hope we can raise him to a ripe old age as it will be a real revelation to see what he eventually becomes.

Master 4 was extremely happy with all of his birthday gifts. a real sense of wonder and a love for toys means this child loves anything. This makes me happy as we can avoid many of the 'commercial' type toys that his big brother adores. The 'winner' toy was a Melissa & Doug Treehouse.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pumpkin Cookies

 I was all prepared to make a pumpkin pie: I had measured the spices, steamed the pumpkin, retrieved the pie shell... only to find that it was the wrong type! I wasn't prepared to make pastry at short notice, nor let the pumpkin go to waste... so I made cookies instead!

I found this recipe over at Designmom.

Having only one cookie tray meant I had to make two batches. The first batch wasn't very successful - but the second was better as I made the cookies much smaller (heaped teaspoonfuls rather than tablespoonfuls). The cookies spread so make sure to leave lots of space between cookies. These cookies are very soft and are best eaten within a couple of days. I felt a little more color was needed so I added some color to the glaze. Color could be added to the cookie dough give a nice subtle orange tinge (if pumpkin flesh is light in color).


2½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp salt
1½ cups sugar
½ cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups powdered (icing) sugar
3 tblsp milk
1 tblsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease baking sheets.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside. Beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle glaze over cookies.
Combine glaze ingredients in small bowl and blend until smooth. Add color to glaze if desired.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Post-Halloween post

Such a delayed post... but I thought you might like to see the kids in costume.

This was the first year we had to contend with rain on a Halloween night- what a shame. With such long walks in our neighborhood, this seriously curtailed the trick-or-treaters. This was also our first Halloween as 'householders' and we had to be prepared for trick-or-treaters arriving. As we have a long driveway, I sat near the road with a candy supply, while my husband took the kids out treating.

Master 5 worked out his own costume using pieces from a skeleton costume, and a cape and cap my mother had lovingly made him. He started off being a 'dead magician' with an oversized hat... but when he added the devilish horn cap, he looked quite frightful. Master 3 dressed up as a 'mighty knight' and Little Miss wore a hand-me-down Koala suit. I was so happy that we managed to avoid 'commercial' character costumes.

One of our neighbors threw a Halloween party on Friday evening - complete with lots of games and tasks for the kids: crafts, apple bobbing, ring toss, musical pumpkins, donut-eating (on a string - no hands!). This was so wonderfully unexpected and so-well organized.

Master five quickly designed his jack-o'-lantern and I carved it for him. Thankfully we left this to the last minute as the squirrels ate all our decorative pumpkins and were not shy about eating carved pumpkins either (the macabre remains of a devoured head greeted us the next morning).