Boo Baskets

DSC_0445

Halloween “Boo”ing.

We were introduced to this tradition when the kids were really young. And we LOVE it. We make up some cute little baskets of goodies to share with our friends and neighbors and then…

Drop it. Knock. RUN.

We used to get caught all the time, but now, we are able to make the get away without anyone seeing us. Usually. Unless someone falls down (which does happen). Or one of the smalls has a change of heart and starts to go back to the door. So many things can go wrong when five little kids are trying to be sneaky! It really is difficult for us to pull this off. But we are getting better.

DSC_0450

And sometimes I think the kids hope to get caught!

But half of the fun is in putting the cute little packages together. We usually buy some treats and a cute container. Then we type the letter and stick it in. This is the one we have been using for a few years now:

Boo-Sheet3

There used to be some rules that went with it about putting the sheet on your door so people knew you had already been boo’ed and then boo’ing two or more people in the next week. blah blah blah..

But we scrapped all that. Who doesn’t want to be boo’ed more than once? And it isn’t a chain letter. Spread it if you want and don’t if this isn’t your year! We don’t need any more pressure as moms, do we?

For some fun inspiration, here are some ideas for boo baskets that we are considering this year:

7f68b848b2c3a6af945d48ff5af4178d

3e374302f76133306a8384a5e159b01f

50896608d8d595a8367b474a885ec6ef

cc7f5ac06672d075e237596c2037c574

Witch Hallloween Party

I think this last one is my favorite, I’m just not sure I will be able to pull it off. Some years it is just so much easier to go through the dollar isle at Target and pick up a simple little container, throw some candy in it and voila.

So if this is your type of thing and it totally energizes you to do it, then by all means pass it on! Either way, I hope you are all boo’ed this year!

Cupcake Wars Birthday Party

It is birthday season in our home and we are making all sorts of plans for different people’s parties. Big plans. Fancy plans. Fun plans. I will have pictures soon!

This year number 1 is trying to top her party from last year, which will be hard to do. Here are a few pictures from that event:

IMG_3998

We made our own aprons that turned out soooo cute. They are just inexpensive aprons from a craft store that we sewed ruffles onto.

DSC_0047 - Version 2

We decorated bakers hats and competed in our cupcake decorating contest.

DSC_0078

DSC_0084

DSC_0085

DSC_0081

DSC_0117

The goodie bag was to take home a few of their cupcakes. I, of course, forgot to take pictures of that!

DSC_0110

The night ended with a beautiful scene on the patio. Beautifully imperfect!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

DSC_0008

Our CSA has been sending zucchini after zucchini after zucchini to us. Unfortunately, my kids don’t like it – not even sautéed. So, I needed to find ways to use this up and get it in them. I found that adding chocolate and sugar to it worked!

So, here is a recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Bread that we are using every week right now. I even took some down to the new neighbors. I hope they liked it!

DSC_0018 2

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

DSC_0010

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt, mix well. In separate bowl, combine sugar and eggs, beat until well blended. Add oil and vanilla; beat until combined. Stir in zucchini. Add flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Spoon evenly into loaf pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pans and cool.

DSC_0012

This is the kind of treat you want to sit down and share with a friend on the porch.
Let’s all give it a try this week.

Made From Scratch

dark-chocolate-fudge-brownies-6

The other day I made some brownies to take to a social gathering of sorts. I was really proud of my brownies, they were just the way I like them, gooey and extra chocolatey. I was hopeful people would really enjoy them too. My brownies never look perfect, but they taste really good – to me at least.

No sooner had I set them down when another woman, a ‘friend’ who had just brought in some way-too-healthy looking cookies, asked me if my brownies were homemade.

I said yes.

I have always thought that if you bake it yourself it is homemade. It isn’t store-made, right? I started out with ingredients (even if some had been put together for me in a box), added others from my kitchen and then I baked them in my oven. That makes it home-made.

Made, in my home.

This person, who knows me fairly well, and who is clearly better than me, said, “I didn’t know you baked from scratch (ouch), they aren’t from a box or something?

Well, yes I used a box, I thought to myself. Why would I make something from scratch when the stuff from the box tastes so much better and is so much easier? And who are you to judge me or my brownies? Don’t eat them if they aren’t good enough for you and leave it at that.

a5371459-75b5-4545-b1b9-89bcf1ffb9dc

After all of that ran through my head I said, “Yes, I made them, at my home, FROM a box. I call that homemade.” And I walked away before she could reply, hurting me even deeper.

Things like this really wound me. What is it with people like this that they need to put me down? Are they better than me because they gathered all the ingredients from their kitchen, while I only gathered some? Does it make them taste better or worse? Does it make me lesser of a baker, cook or person?

NO, and I have news for any of you who stick your nose up at someone who makes their baked good from a box; ours tastes better than yours (most of the time).

But on the occasion that it doesn’t, I want you to know I still went through the trouble of putting my time and energy into making something to bring. That alone should warrant respect and thankfulness.

plates

So, to all of us who make our baked goods from boxes: BE PROUD of your work and effort. Show up with your baked goods in hand and your head held high. You are amazing! You put some extra effort in and it is going to taste good.

And for all of us who have to run by the store and buy something store-made (who knows what they are going to say about us now), bring along a cute little plate you picked up at TJMaxx or HomeGoods and proudly display them right on that beauty. If anyone asks, say, “yes, they are store bought, and with the extra time I had on my hands, I got my nails done, see?”

So just know this: I will accept your boxed baked goods, or your store bought baked goods with open arms ANY DAY. I will just be glad for the tasty treat and your generosity.

And for the record, I like brownies and chocolate chip cookies 🙂