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.
Shiny Brite ornaments were the most popular Christmas tree ornaments made in the 1940’s and 1950’s in the United States. I have an original box set that my grandma gave to me when I had my first apartment, and Christmas tree, of my own. Those ornaments hark back to the time when she and her sisters were the age that I am today. I always keep an eye out for them in antique stores, and it makes me wonder what will evoke memories of Christmases past when I am in my eighties.
It is easy to feel homesick around the holidays, because it’s often a mile marker for realizing that things are never going to be the same. For others, the times seem more joyous and precious than ever, and I need to keep that in mind. I am just missing people right now, but on New Year’s Eve, I’ll raise my cup to the shiny nostalgic memories and hopes for unexpectedly brite futures.
It was never so easy to follow a diet. The day began with my sister’s eggnog pancakes covered in maple syrup. After breakfast, my niece and I unwrapped candy and candy canes to decorate a gingerbread house. And when we went to find Santa at an outdoor mall (unseasonably warm for December in Indiana this weekend), we found another jolly man making fresh kettle corn on the sidewalk (kettle corn will sub for candy corn here)! I have to tell you that I have never enjoyed kettle corn so much in life, then I realized that this was the first time I had ever had kettle corn when it wasn’t hot outside. With just the right amount of sweet and savory, popped to warm perfection, it reminded me of the hot chestnuts I ate on the street in Florence one chilly early January afternoon. The day of sticking to the four main elf food groups was also a day I will never forget — thank you Manges Family! Don’t worry, I am eating my fair share of broccoli today.
From decorations and music to food and drink, I get all sorts of sentimental feelings during the holiday season. You may remember last year when I shared one of my favorite tree-gazing beverages, the pink snow float. This year I put together a more tart beverage with pink grapefruit and lime, more for tree-rocking and sushi eating than lazy lights gazing. Adjust the amounts based on your taste. Begin with pink grapefruit juice, add gin if you wish, then drop in sweet scoops of lime sherbet (I used my melon baller for the little glasses). Top off the drink with club soda or another fizzy liquid and watch the bright green bubbles grow to the top of your glass.
“Rocking around the Christmas tree, have a happy holiday! Everyone dancing merrily in the new old-fashioned way.”
After making autumn witch hats, I decided that matching brooms were in order. For the bottom part of the broom, melt together 12 oz. butterscotch chips with 3 tablespoons of nut or sunflower butter until uniform and glossy. Coat 5-6 oz. of chow mein noodles with the golden butterscotch mixture and drop as pyramid piles onto parchment paper. For the broomstick, place a pretzel stick in the middle of the pile and give them about 20 minutes to harden. These brooms are easy to make, easy to serve, and perhaps even easier to eat.
I took my non-edible broom outside this morning to sweep away the last of the fallen leaves on the back porch. The winds are calling for butternut squash soup on the stovetop and cinnamon baked goods in the oven this week. My heart is with those in the path of the hurricane: be safe and keep cozy, my friends.
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.
This outdoor market takes “sample day” to a whole new level. The experience would later be affectionately referred to as the morning toothpick feast. Bacon pickles, huckleberry rhubarb jam, roasted hazelnuts, vanilla & cayenne all-natural maraschino cherries, green chile corn chowder, cardamom rosewater cheesecake, dried royal ann cherries, goat cheddar, marionberry & cream cinnamon rolls, red cabbage slaw, sopressata, and more! Somehow amidst the frenzy of fine samples I managed to take a few pictures of the abundance.
Mom: I love you bunches and piles. All Mothers: may your jam jars overflow with local pleasures.