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comfort & joy | Home & Away

poached birthday smile

rose 90 birthdat table

sunday birthday snow

thanksgiving dessert and crackers
snowflake butternut cookies
When my nephew was two, he (his mom and dad) gave me a picture frame that read: “Aunt: Like Mom Only Cooler.” Recently someone told me that I was a good aunt; it was probably the best compliment I could have received. You see, Aunts have been important characters in my life. They have been unconditional resources of hospitality, information, understanding, experience, perspective, inspiration and support.

My Great Aunt Rose celebrated her 90th birthday last month. There was cake, pie, ice cream, fried chicken and a barbershop quartet! She was in heels and sparkles and beamed all weekend long. The first snow of this season was on that mid November Sunday morning, the day she was born, 90 years later (she recalled that it snowed the morning she was born, too). I celebrated my 34th birthday the following week, on a Sunday morning, the same day that I was born.

As I reflect on my life to this point, the opportunity to be an aunt is one of my great privileges. I think about the aunts in my life and what they have meant to me. It is not that they are cooler than my mom, or necessarily blood relatives to my mom, but they are maternally special. I am proud to continue that legacy; I had (still have) good teachers. Of course my uncles are cool too, but that’s an entirely different matter.

1 antique holiday window

2 joyride tacos phoenix

3 desert botanical 8

churn in the park

desert botanical 1

desert silhouette

st. francis restaurant at night
As I write, the wind chill factor in Indiana is negative 3-degrees, and there is almost 4 inches of snow on the ground. These photos were taken just over a week ago in sunny Phoenix where the temperature reached 88-degrees! The images of the Desert Botanical Gardens, afternoon markets and open air restaurants are warming, but the memories shared with a dear friend are even more so.

1 spookley square pumpkin marshmallow krispie treat smile 2 marshmallow pumpkins in pot 3 melting pumpkin marshmallows 4 marshmallow treat in pans5 orange spookley square pumpkin marshmallow krispie treats cut 6 green licorice pumpkin stem decorating spookley facespookley treat marshmallow“Spookley wasn’t like his friends — where they had curves, he had ends.” Do you know the Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin? It’s a colorful picture book that celebrates differences. When I spied the Jumbo Pumpkin (shaped, not flavored) Mallow Puffs at the store, I knew it was my opportunity to make Spookley Treats in honor of the charming anti-bullying story. To make them, I followed the Rice Krispies Treats recipe* (in my opinion, it is most tasty to use full-fat salted butter and slow melt the gooey mix on the stove top) and added candy for the features, attaching them with chocolate icing. I realize that the proportions are exaggerated, but I think it adds to their homemade charm. It would also be fun to make treats resembling each one of Spookley’s friends, because after all, every pumpkin in the patch has something special to offer.

*A single batch of treats uses 20 of the jumbo pumpkin-shaped mallows.

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