Monday, October 31, 2011

A Tradition

This is our fourth annual pumpkin carving contest.  Every year my kids carve their pumpkins trying to make them the spookiest, funniest, and most creative one from all the others.  Their dad and me are the judges, and we decide who will come in first place.  The only rules are there are no props and no pumpkin carving kits.  So, on with the contest while we watch these sweet pumpkins being carved the old fashioned way.

I love the way they smell after opening a freshly carved pumpkin.

Happy Face


"Hi" Pumpkin



What better way to celebrate Halloween than a
Mad Tea Party?

So, the Scarecrow won first place.  We thought it was unique, fun, and alot of time went into making it.

Which one is your favorite?  Have a good week, my sweet friends.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'll Trade You...

When we were younger, our favorite part of Halloween was dressing up and going over our Grandma's house to trick-or-treat with our cousins.  

We made sure to visit the houses that gave out the best candy.  

Our favorite street of all was lined with a tunnel of overgrown trees.  

After showing off our costumes, chowing down on pizza, and running around the neighborhood filling our pillow cases with candy (we must have driven our parents crazy!), we made it home safe and sound.  

Of course there was the annual candy safety lecture and an inspection from our parents, but as soon as they gave us the go-ahead we dug right in!  

The trading would then begin!  We loved to spread all of our candy onto our pillowcases, organize them, and trade with each other.  

I hope some day when we have children, they have as much fun as we did at Grandma and Grandpa's house. 

Have a sweet weekend ;-)

~Jess & Nel ~

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Boo-tiful Makeover

Meet my ghost...

and his pumpkin...

Growing up, this little guy was my absolute favorite Halloween decoration.

He has an opening in the back so that you can light a candle and illuminate him and his pumpkin friend.

I couldn't wait until it was time to take him out of the holiday box and set him out on display.  

When I moved out to go to college, my mom sent him with me so that I would have a spooky little friend to light up my new apartment during the fall season.

Over the years, though, he's gotten a little chippy and faded, so I decided this Halloween it was time for a makeover!  

I pulled out the paints and went to work.

Now he's feeling much more BOO-tiful!

And his pumpkin friend is looking brighter too!

They both would like to wish YOU a Happy Halloween!

~ Nel ~

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Music is Healing

My Son is learning to play the Guitar and the Keyboards.  I have always thought that it was such a talent when one can play a musical instrument.  I used to take piano lessons when I was little, but I never followed through with it, and can only play a couple of songs.  The girls used to play the Clarinet when they were in school, and would come home and show us what they learned.  It is such a thrill for me to listen to my son while he plays his guitar.

"Music is a moral law.  It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything."

Do you play any musical instruments?


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Luck of the Irish (Stew)

Fall is my favorite season for a number of reasons, but one of the things I love the most about the autumn and winter months is warming up to a piping hot bowl of Irish Stew

I discovered this recipe a couple years ago on the Food Network. They had hosted a contest for the world's best stew, and this traditional Irish dish beat out all the others. You'll understand why as soon as you taste it! 

The flavor is so unique - it's really like nothing I've ever tasted - and everyone I've made it for just loves it too. The recipe is a little detailed, and it does take about three hours combined prep and cook time, but it smells so good cooking you wouldn't want to leave the kitchen anyway!

Here it is!

3 lamb chops
¼ cup flour
½ bag peeled carrots
1 onion
½ cup red cooking wine
4 cups beef stock
1 cup barley
4 potatoes
1 stick butter
3 cloves garlic
About ½ cup olive oil
Spices: salt, pepper, bay leaves, cloves, thyme, parsley

1. In a thick ceramic oven-safe pot heat up ¼ cup olive oil on stove.
2. Wash and cut three lamb chops in half.
3. Sprinkle salt and pepper on chops and roll in flour mixed with more salt and pepper.
4. Sear lamb chops on both sides 4-5 minutes.
5. Take out meat and use excess juices to cook carrots and onions.
6. Add 1 cup wine and 4 cups beef stock. Simmer for 10 minutes.

(of course the cook gets a glass!) ( ;

7. Add spices: 3 bay leaves, 4-5 cloves, pinch thyme. (It's the bay leaves that really give this stew its distinct flavor!)

8. Add one cup barley and mix.
9. Add lamb chops back in and put in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
10. While cooking, make garlic butter (see below).
11. After one hour, take out stew, salt, and stir.
12. Peel and chop in large chunks 3 large potatoes.

13. Put on top of stew and drizzle olive oil.

14. Put back in oven and bake for 1 hour.
15. After 1 hour, take out stew, stir, brush on ¾ garlic butter, and bake for 15 minutes.
16. Take out stew, brush on rest of garlic butter, and serve.

Garlic Butter:
1. Mince 2-3 whole cloves of garlic.
2. Drizzle olive oil on top.

3. Sprinkle with salt.
4. Chop garlic and grind to paste texture.
5. Fold in ½ bunch parsley, chop, and mix together.
6. Turn pan on low and melt 1 stick butter.
7. Combine with garlic mix.

The stew is so thick when it comes out of the oven you can stand up a spoon in the bowl!

This delicious dish will make any hungry guy or gal feel as lucky as the Irish. ( ;

If you decide to give this recipe a go, let me know how it turns out!

~ Nel ~