Monthly Archives: October 2014

Pumpkin Day

One of the most looked-forward to days of the school year is pumpkin carving day! We talk about various cultural traditions surrounding this time of year (Dia De Los Muertos is a favorite) and about how they used to carve turnips and gourds before pumpkins became the tradition.  Everyone gets to pick out their pattern and work on their own pumpkin.

This year, little Dilly “helped”.



I have to admit, it’s nice that my kids are old enough now that I don’t spend hours scraping out their pumpkins for them.


In the background we play Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and generally sing along with it.


Oona is finally getting the hang of tracing out the pattern, and carving out the bigger pieces (this year she chose the ghost dog Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and I only carved the ears and nose for her).


While they scraped, carved and cuddled the kitty, I made cinnamon bread in the Pullman Pan (I added a good 1/2 cup of pureed pumpkin to the cinnamon filling….yum!) and pumpkin-chip cookies (I found a bag of Nestle pumpkin chips at Target with the recipe on the bag).




The guts went into two big bowls which then went out to the pigs for their annual pumpkin day treat.




Neve chose the most difficult pattern of the three; “Scraps”, the skeletal dog from Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride.


It took her quite awhile.


Sorry, can’t help myself. She’s too adorable.


The hardest part was waiting for nighttime to light them and see everyone’s handiwork.


Oona’s “Zero”.


Emily’s Hanging Bat.


Neve’s patience and hard work paid off. Scraps came out great!

After dinner we all settled in to watch Hocus Pocus and get ready for the big day.

When the kids had gone up to bed I lingered for awhile over a hot cup of cinnamon tea by the woodstove and read a few chapters of this month’s bookclub selection that I am loving. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.  It’s delightfully creepy and Gothic, and perfect for this time of year!

Tonight we open a big bottle of Kraken Rum with friends and take the kids round the neighborhood to collect treats.

Happy Halloween, all.  I hope it’s the perfect blend of fun, fear, and festivity!


Tagged: food, Homeschooling, Pets

Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing

Every once in a while, I get a great idea.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing

I am not a huge bagel person (they are just so big and ready and full of calories! Plus I aways have a blood sugar crash about 2 hours after eating one.) But Michael knows about my obsession with pumpkin so a few weeks ago, he returned from Einstein Bros with a pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese for me. The bagel was pretty good but the cream cheese was AMAZING! I’ve have a few more pumpkin bagels in the intervening weeks, but only as a vehicle for the delicious pumpkin cream cheese. And then one day it hit me.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing would be incredible.

Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing

Yesterday I made several batches of cinnamon rolls and whipped up a batch of Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing.

Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing

I made the cinnamon rolls in lined muffin tins, because I prefer the way they look when they are baked this way.

Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing

The Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing was so good and so easy!

1  6-oz tub of Pumpkin Cream Cheese

1 stick unsalted butter

2 cups powered sugar

1/3- 1/2 can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

Cream together the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of your electric mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until it’s all incorporated, then add the pumpkin. I wanted to make pipe-able icing for my cinnamon rolls, so I needed it to be on the thin side. Therefore I used 1/2 can of pumpkin. But if you are icing cupcakes, you’ll want it to be thicker so you should use less pumpkin.


Haunted …

Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital



- by Joan -

Two New Hats: Anemone and Foraminifera

I’ve released two new hats over the last couple weeks.

The first is Foraminifera, featuring a subtle cable pattern. It’s worked in Anzula For Better or Worsted, which, as you know, I love.

2014-10-12 09.27.37

The second is Anemone, worked in Bijou Basin Ranch Bijou Spun.  I loved how this yarn bloomed once I blocked the hat.

anemone hat (12)

This location, Veteran’s Park in Redondo Beach, is now my favorite spot for beachy photoshoots — it’s easy to get to (just a few miles from my house), easy parking, and good light especially with a (very common) morning marine layer to diffuse the sunlight.  Expect to see more photoshoots here in the future!

Autumn Porches #1 …



- by Joan -


btt button

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

Still Unexplained …

I repost this post almost every year as it touches me deeply.

My daughter Deb is a twin. Sadly her sister Susan was only here for a few hours.

One of my favorite pictures of Debbie (age 3)


Katy (Katama) was Deb’s first Boykin Spaniel. She was the first dog to go on vacation with Deb and me, no big surprise that it was to MV. Katy left us after 20 months and we feel that she’s now with Susan.  Here’s Deb with Katy at Sengekontacket Pond on Martha’s Vineyard.


My creation


Chappy (Chappaquiddick) was Deb’s next Boykin Spaniel.  Here they are enjoying the window seat at the inn we were staying at in Oak Bluffs.


We took lots of pictures of Chappy’s first trip to the Vineyard, especially on the beach and in the water. He really enjoyed splashing about and barking at waves. These pictures show a little of his fun at the beach.



My creation

And then there’s this picture:


Is this a double exposure, or is it Deb and Chappy with Susan and Katy ? You be the judge.  Just let me say that my camera, not a digital one, had never, until that day, taken a double exposure and never did so afterwards.

Happy Halloween !!!

Haunted Mill …

Wheatsworth Mill  ~  Hamburg, New Jersey

Some say this is one of the scariest places in New Jersey !!


- by Joan -

Probably something you would like…





Still need a Halloween costume? These downloadable and printable masks designed by Wintercroft are amazing! (Thank you, Elizabeth S. for sending me these!)


Um, how great is this Alexander McQueen cabled skull sweater? For $1000 bucks and some change it could be yours! Or you could chart something similar and make it yourself.

What’s making you happy this Halloween week?

Review: The English Tenses

No, no. This isn’t a grammar-filled post to explain all the intricacies of verb tenses in the English language. How could it be? English is complicated and it would take an entire book to explain it all–far more space than a single blog post.

Which is exactly the point, because I’m here to tell you about just such a book.

101914_0018_1Title: The English Tenses: Practical Grammar Guide
Author: Phil Williams
Publisher: English Lessons Brighton, 2014

Published in the UK, this book addresses a problem for people learning English as a second language–how to recognize and use the assortment of our many verb tenses, both in theory and in actual practice.

English is complex, but at least I grew up with English in my ears. Even if I couldn’t tell you what a split infinitive was when I was five, I knew what they sounded like, just as I knew to match singular-plural subjects and verbs in a sentence even if I didn’t know exactly why.

For everyone else, though–the people who need to learn English when they were born with other languages embedded in their brains–it’s another story. They need to learn all of English’s many rules from scratch, and that can’t be easy. I’ve always admired that because English is the only language I can speak or read with any facility at all. (Classroom French didn’t make as much of an impact as Mme. Martin had hoped.)

I know how complicated English is, and few things are harder (other than the quixotic spelling rules) than the verb tenses.

And so, here is Phil William’s book.

Did you know there are twelve distinct tenses in the English language? Twelve! Four variations each for past, present, and future tenses.

No wonder people get confused. I know I get confused identifying the more obscure ones ones. I can use them, yes, but trying to explain them? Um … like many people who grew up with certain knowledge on their tongues, I take my language for granted.

This 127-page book addresses all that. It’s meticulous in its approach to just about every variation for past/present/future tense there is. (I say “just about” because while I can’t think of anything he missed, I can’t guarantee that there’s not some little-used verb usage that wasn’t addressed.) In terms of practical guides, though … this book definitely does the job.

The explanations are clear, even for such a complex subject. The examples are precise and while there are a number of necessary charts to study, that’s necessary for thoroughness–and this book is very thorough. I can’t remember reading this much nitty-gritty detail since Mrs. Babyock’s eighth grade English class … and that’s a good thing.

If I were learning English as a second language, I would need a book just like this to help figure out how to say what I needed to say.

People take their native language for granted. Even if your school system was thorough in teaching you grammar (and that’s not something you can ever assume), even the most careless native speaker is going to have a head start over someone coming new to the language. And when it’s all new and strange (and English can be very strange), it helps to have a clear, easy to read guide to help navigate your way.

Better yet, it works for native speakers, too. Just because you can use the language doesn’t mean you know all the rules, after all.