Entries in holiday (7)


halloween: mythical woodland creatures

In my kids early years it was sometimes a struggle to convince them that home made costumes were the way to go. We would pass shops full of ready to wear costumes and I would be greeted with whining and tears...why can't we buy that!?!?


Now that they are older and all in school all day I have filled my days with other projects and have less time to devote to things like Halloween so I opened up the idea of buying costumes this year...boy was that idea rejected quickly! Of course, I am thrilled that the love of making things has been passed down to my children but this year the pressure to perform set off a total panic attack for me.


One of the hardest parts of Halloween planning for me is negotiating with the kids about what to be - their fantasies and my costume making skills are not always in line. This year Owen decided he wanted to be a satyr and set to work researching how to make his costume. He found all kinds of inspiring photos online and even a few how to's for making the legs but I was still worried: the sewing involved to make fur pants that would fit over the newly sculpted animal legs is way beyond my skill level! Then we happaned across this video that gives a brilliant way to make animal horns for a costume. I was so thrilled...it only used readily available materials and the skills needed seemed appropriate. I gathered the whole family around to suggest we embrace this as our theme and much to my delight all agreed. We were able to gather the supplies and make 5 sets of horns all by the end of the day. In fact, the kids worked so quickly that I struggled to get photos of all the step!



We agreed that the horns will unify us but the specifics of what we will wear with them will be unique to each...Oliver is leaning in the Minotaur direction while Bea is fawn meets queen. She is the only one to have fully hammered out the details of her costume (photo at top of post). She fell in love with this cheap wig we had in our costume box from a past year and combined that with as many dark and glamorous peices of clothing as she could dig up. The military jacket is the one item I managed to buy while contemplating a store bought Halloween...it is from H&M.



aunt persis's cookies


These are one of my very favorite cookies...once they are cool they get sandwiched with raspberry jam and glazed with icing. Our friend Teddy first introduced them to our family in the 1980's and she learned the recipe from her aunt Persis. Now they reappear every year at Christmas when my parents bring their famous cookie platter to our house.


Not just for Christmas, my dad made this plate of them for our family for Valentine's day, last year. When I asked for the recipe I got a handwritten note in perfect script that said the following:


Aunt Persis's Cookies


3/4 lb. butter
3 cups flour
1/2cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
Roll thin and cut into hearts. 
Bake 375.
Put together with raspberry jam.
Frost with powdered sugar and water. 


I found both the handwriting and the simplicity of the recipe charming. Lauren and Lila made a batch of the cookies (seen cooling in the photo at the top of this post) this week for a family gathering to celebrate Lila's birthday. Lauren and Dad both agreed that a few notes might be helpful for anyone who wants to make the recipe: 


The butter should be very soft so all the dry ingredients can be incorporated.

Once the dough is made divide it into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 45 minutes before rolling.

The cookies take approximately 10 minutes to bake.


christmas cookies


Baking Christmas cookies is a big part of our family's holiday tradition. Every year my parents, and especially my father, make as many batches of cookies as they can during the month of December. They package them up as gifts for friends and always bring a big batch to our house on Christmas day. Everyone has their favorites but the kids especially love decorated cookies.


If we find ourselves with an afternoon after school, or a free day on the weekend, we also like to make a few batches of cookies and decorate them. Unlike at my parents house, when we make cookies they all get eaten so they don't make it onto the cookie platter on Christmas Day.


skull cupcakes


My friend Jodi came up with these brilliant marshmallow skulls for Martha Stewart Living. As soon as I saw them I knew my kids would love them. My boys still bring a treat to school for their birthday and these skulls on top of a mini cupcake are perfect. One cake recipe makes enough mini cupcakes for both boy's classes and the skulls more than make up for the tiny portions. The directions call for chocolate sprinkles but we used the multi colored ones that I already had. Best of all, the skulls are easy enough to make that the kids got to help too.




spiderweb cupcakes


My boys were born at the end of October so we have had plenty of Halloween inspired birthday parties. These cupcakes impress young guests and they are quite fun to make.


The decoration is way easier than it looks: The white frosting is made with a box of confectioners sugar and 5-8 tablespoons of milk. Combine 3 cups Confectioner's sugar with 4 tablespoons of milk. Add the remaining milk very gradually, checking the consistency as you go. You want the frosting to be thick enough that it coats the cupcake well and does not run off the top, but thin enough to give a smooth surface. When you think you have it about right test it on one of your cupcakes. If it is too runny add more confectioners sugar. If it is too thick, add a little more milk - just a few drops at a time. Melt chocolate chips in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Put melted chocolate in a piping bag with a small plain tip, or in a paper cone. Coat the cupcakes with the white frosting. Pipe a spiral of chocolate on top. Use a toothpick to create the web by starting in the center of the cupcake and drawing the point to the edge, repeating until the web is complete. Top with a plastic spider ring. I work in batches of 6 cupcakes to ensure that the frosting and chocolate remain soft enough to get the desired effect. Once the frosting starts to set the chocolate does not blend with the frosting to create the webs. (There is a wide margin for error, I promise!) 


You can use whatever cake or cupcake recipe you love. I am partial to this one from Martha Stewart.


happy father's day!!


happy mother's day!


It is hard to believe that these photos were taken 9 years ago. Happy mother's day to all my mom friends, and especially my own mom...I love you!