I’ll admit that I was not thrilled with the idea that my niece chose a prefab Cinderella castle kit from the store for our annual gingerbread session this year. She loves to bake and is now old enough to see the project through from scratch. I was looking forward to designing our own charming chalet or creative candy cottage a la Hansel and Gretel. In the end, the gingerbread castle we put together from the kit still allowed for unique touches. My favorite parts are the mice dancing on the roof and the alien-looking snowmen with the blue eyes (all from the brain of the sweet five-year-old). I need to remember that these activities are, above all, about togetherness and that the outcome will inevitably be as unique and fabulous as the individuals involved.
One of my favorite collections as a kid was my sticker collection. Afterall, I was an American child of the Eighties. Unfortunately I no longer have my spiral album filled with scratch ‘n’ sniff (Mello Smello online?!) and velour stickers, but I do still keep a full sticker box. After years of being a summer camp counselor, preschool art teacher, and avid envelope (letter writer) decorator, I have amassed all sorts of sticky embellishments in there. I am doing a little crafty spring cleaning and want to share the love with anyone interested. If you or someone you know would like to receive a sticker assortment in the mail, send the mailing address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org — first five responders will get an envelope from me soon!
It is the time of year here when colors start to appear from the grey and brown landscape like confetti strewn along streams and parkways. I had a bag of confetti left over from New Year’s Eve, so I put it use for Easter, a celebration of new life. Originally I planned to cover my eggs on the outside until I learned about cascarones: eggs that are filled on the inside with confetti. Why not celebrate on the inside and the outside? More fun: a game with Cascarones at Oh Happy Day! The story goes that having a cascarón broken over your head will bring good luck. Depending on how much confetti coverage you get, you will have disco eggs, which calls for a little disco duck.
Blowing out eggs from last year… this year I made lime custard with the empties!
I made it to the post office in the nick of time this weekend to mail off my simple sweet valentines in time for the 14th. I hope they like their favorite juicy Starburst flavors put together to make heart shapes. You can make your own Starburst hearts by gluing (I used Elmer’s) three Starburst on a piece of heavy paper (I used fluorescent poster board cut to fit a long envelope). Candy tiles and juicy hearts!
I did a little apartment decorating using heart stickers and heart garland (made by accordion-folding used wrapping paper before cutting the heart shape). While I attached them to my globes I thought of all of the people in all of the world and how all of those people have hearts for feeling. Anne Mansfield Sullivan was Helen Keller’s teacher who explained to her that “the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.” Hope you feel the love across the globe.
One of my dad’s hobbies is making paper models of historic homes. He gave a few of his prototypes to my niece to color over Thanksgiving, and here is one brilliantly surfaced product that she gave to me. I thought it would be nice to live there and be snowed in (a chimney implies a fireplace!). And if we were snowed in we might not so feel guilty watching college basketball and Christmas movies on TV for a day (a few of my dad’s other hobbies that I happen to enjoy). No snow here, yet.
It’s getting to be sweater weather around here, and though I don’t knit, I do keep this colorful variegated yarn on hand called “schoolyard.” The colors in this yarn remind me of a basic box of Crayolas, and I like to use it for tying up brown paper packages and cellophane bags of goodies. The other day I brought it into the kitchen and used it to cozy up some naked lolli sticks for this year’s festive candied apples.
Last year I bookmarked this Brooklyn Brew Shop recipe on The Mash and thought it was prime time to try it for myself and cozy up some bare apples! I followed the outlined recipe with the exceptions of subbing light brown sugar I had in the cupboard for the dark brown sugar and the always cozy double chocolate stout (stout = “porter on steroids” as once described by a beer shop guy) for the maple chocolate porter listed. I had difficulty actually biting into the candied apple, so I ended up slicing the apples and serving them that way. The look of the toffee is sinister and the flavor is slightly sweet with hints roasted coffee. I think I will make another batch of toffee and form a few porter candy spiderweb toppers for the weekend (cinnamon/molasses gelato sundaes, anyone?).
To make your own sweatery sticks, glue the beginning of the yarn at one end of the stick with a dot of liquid glue and overlap to cover the glued piece. Continue wrapping the stick with yarn to desired length and secure the end with another dot of liquid glue.
Among the tea time snack treats I enjoy this time of year are Anna’s Ginger Thins and Caramel Bugles. Bugles used to be a special after-school treat at my babysitter’s house (when you could still buy them in boxes!). All of us kids would put them on the ends of our fingers and pretend that we had creepy pointed fingers like the Wicked Witch of the West. Bugles are also the perfect shape for making little witch hat desserts, usually stuck on chocolate cookies and dipped in chocolate. I decided to make a more earth-toned witch hat with my favorite snack treats using sunflower butter as the glue. The flavor combo is salty, sweet, spicy, nutty, and crunchy like fall leaves.
Are you a good witch or a bad witch? I must be an autumn witch.
My niece is four years old now, and after her brother gets on the big yellow bus, she wants to have school, too. This morning I was at her house and she asked me if we could make a pumpkin craft. She loves practicing her scissor skills and cuts out all sorts of shapes and colors that inevitably look like confetti! While she made orange construction paper pumpkins, I curled up some green spiral vines. Next, we glued everything down on grid paper. She named each of the little pumpkin pieces as she pasted them down and called it her family picture. Once all of the family was glued down, she said, “let’s play princess castle and read cookbooks together, Aunt Amy.” Twist my arm.