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Blessed Samhain – from Fairy Berry and us

Before anything else, I just wanted to wish you all a blessed Samhain.  Hold close the ones you love, and remember well those who have already passed from this world.  As the world enters the dark half of the year, gather close to share stories and memories, and soon we’ll return to the light.  Brightest blessings, may your lives be filled with warmth, caring, and many wonderful new memories to share in the future.

Now…  I want you to say hello to Fairy Berry.  The girl was just thrilled when I finally let her see the ponysona costume I’d created for her.  As I helped her into each piece, she’d run to the bathroom to see how it looked:  and with pants, sweater, two wigs, and ears, that was several trips to check out her reflection.  So she was quite happy to show it off while I snapped a few pictures before she headed to school this afternoon.  It’s totally adorable on her, and the wings worked just as I’d hoped:  they actually flap as she walks, skips, and hops along.  😀

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – DIY

We roast pumpkin seeds every year.  Along with carving the jack-o-lanterns, it’s part of our rituals on the eve of Samhain (or Halloween, if you prefer).  As we were boiling our seeds, a few questions started coming in on FB – where I’d been sharing videos.  So I figured a blog post was in order.  Which brings us up to date.  😉

Home made, roasted pumpkin seeds are my very favourite Halloween treat.  Candies, chips, chocolates may be nice…  but nothing beats the yummy crunch of pumpkin seeds done right.  And to be honest?  I find the process of harvesting the seeds, washing, boiling, drying, and roasting them to be very zen.  I just enjoy the whole thing, which only adds to their natural goodness.

Tonight we’ll cover the basics, and by the end you’ll be on your way to developing your own way of seasoning and enjoying home roasted pumpkin seeds.

We were rather grateful that Damon had purchased two great big pumpkins this year, as we discovered our first one was partially rotten inside – which meant we wouldn’t be harvesting anything from it.  It still made a good jack-o-lantern, but I wouldn’t have trusted anything to be edible.  Thankfully our second pumpkin had such a wealth of seeds that we’ll have as many from one pumpkin as we often get from two!

So, the obvious steps to this process:

  • harvest your seeds
  • wash your seeds

freshly harvested and washed pumpkin seeds

Now, this next step is the one that seemed to generate all the questions:

  • boil your seeds

Yes.  I boil my seeds.  I didn’t always though, and I had the same problems many people report when doing their own home roasting.  The seeds were tough, and inconsistent.  I started boiling them six or seven years ago now, and it makes a world of difference.  My pumpkin seeds are crispier, lighter, and more flavourful.  It’s definitely worth the extra step.

I use a medium sized sauce pan, and add a couple of inches of water.  Roughly enough to cover your seeds and allow for an extra inch or inch and a half of water.  Bring it to a boil and add your seeds.

This is also when I add my seasonings or spices.

We try something different almost every year.  It’s fun to experiment with different spices or seasonings.  This year we kept it pretty simple and went with a tablespoon of garlic powder a teaspoon of salt.  Seasoning salt works nice, and things like dill pickle popcorn seasonings are even pretty good.  Try taco blends too.  There are lots of options – I’ve yet to find a dud.  LOL

Click the links below to watch the progression of our seeds as they boil:

All told, they boiled for about 25 minutes.  You’ll notice the colour change, then keep boiling until most of the liquid is gone (the steam clouded the iPhone lens):

seasoned and boiled - pumpkin seeds

At this point you have two choices.  You can pop them directly in the oven (on a buttered, oiled, sprayed cookie sheet or on parchment paper)…  or you can dry them first.  If I know I’ll have time to babysit them I’ll often pop them in the oven.  Kid kid has a hard time having the patience needed to dry them out any other way.  So at 350 degrees it will be between an hour and an hour and a half – and do watch them carefully because cooking time varies.

We didn’t get started on the process until the evening (we usually start on them in the afternoon), so it means I get to do them up the leisurely way – which I prefer.  I spread them out on a sheet to dry, and then put the girl to bed.  Which is where we are now:

the boiled pumpkin seeds, spread on a cookie sheet to dry overnight

Tomorrow morning, when they’re nice and dry, I’ll pop them into the oven at 350 degrees for about fifteen minutes.  The house already smells yummy from having them boil, but tomorrow will smell even better as they roast.  I’ll pull them out to cool for a wee bit, and we’ll have my favourite treat.  Some we’ll bag up in a ziplock to keep in my bag as a treat for when we’re out and about and happen to feel snacky.  But most of them will get eaten before they have a chance to be bagged…  though…  I will stash away a small handful or two, just for me.  LOL

So that’s it!  That’s how you make the very best homemade roasted pumpkin seeds – from scratch.  Follow the steps I’ve outlined here, and they’ll be perfect, every time!

Joyous Samhain and Happy Halloween!

A few photos, and a brief update.

I’m exhausted.

Seems I start blog posts like that more and more often.  It’s true though.  Halloween is exhausting normally, with all the parties, sewing, crafting, pumpkins, treats, etc.  But add in caring for puppies and trying to get ready for the big move?  Yeah.  I’m exhausted – and being sick all weekend didn’t help.  And yes, I just plowed on through…  too much stuff to do, too many events to take it.  It’s Halloween, remember?  😉

Yesterday we gave the pups a new bed.  Their first “big dog” bed.  It’s still in the nursery, but we took out the Nature’s Miracle litter box that serves as a newborn bed (and containment), and brought in the doughnut bed.  It’s all cute, and pink, and silky soft.  And the boys love having free reign of the entire nursery now.  Mom likes having a nice comfy spot too.  So it’s a win all around.

Today I spent the afternoon working on the girl’s Halloween costume.  Yes, yes, yes…  I know she was Merida…  but that was her Halloween PARTY costume.  On Halloween itself she’ll be dressing up as Fairy Berry – her My Little Pony persona.  For those who don’t live in Saskatchewan, YES.  One costume for indoor parties, and a different one for trick or treating is necessary.  It’s darn cold out there at night with the snow.  Soooo….  LOL  I found these cute little iron on strawberry patches, which ended up saving me some time.  Instead of having to create both the Fairy Berry plant AND the strawberries that grow on it, I only had to create the plant and just iron on the berries.  MUCH easier.  Then it was just a matter of creating wings, sewing them on, upcycling a wig into a tail, and BOOM.  Fairy Berry costume.  Well…  I bought her some pony ears too.  Can’t very well be a MLP without the ears.  So tomorrow it’s pumpkin carving in the morning, ballet in the evening, one more sleep, and it’s the big day.  YAY!

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Oh!  And tonight was the Avenue Community Center’s first Family Mixer…  the Creepy Queer Halloween Family Fun Night.  We had a great time.  Got to see lots of familiar faces as well as many new ones too.  And the kid had a blast playing with the many children all close to her own age.  It really was wonderful.  I’m looking forward to many get togethers in the future.

My BRAVE Family!

For Denyse’s annual Halloween party we decided on a Disney Pixar Brave theme.  However, with our being in the middle of moving house I knew I wouldn’t have time to sew three costumes this year.  So we hit the great “interweb” to hunt down whatever we could find – to help lighten the crafting load.

After a couple of days it became apparent that we weren’t going to be able to find anything movie accurate – which was a bit of a drag, but that also gave us a bit of freedom as well.  So instead of being Merida, Queen Elinor, and King Fergus we are Merida-inspired, Queen Elinor-inspired, and King Fergus-inspired.  LMAO  That also meant I could buy a red tartan to make Damon’s costume at half the price a more authentic blue/green tartan would have been…  and when you’re buying four meters of something, that adds up pretty quickly.  Yay for thriftiness!

With Lily-Ann’s naturally curly red hair, she’s a total natural as Merida.  And she was only too proud to tell anyone who’d listen how she doesn’t need a prince to find her happily ever after.  Now, because kid kid’s curls are all really pretty soft spirals, I had to do some twisties in her hair overnight.  We left the bottom as is, but twisted up six bunches of varying thicknesses up on top.  I just twisted each section until it formed tight little twisty piles and then secured each with two bobby pins.  It gave her the fly-aways, and crazy tight spirals that Merida sports.

Lily-Ann as Merida, a perfect fit with her naturally red curly hair.

The toughest part of my costume was finding a wig.  Seriously, if you need a long brown wig for Halloween you are S.O.L.  I ended up settling for what you see here.  It was the best I could find – even after hitting two Halloween specialty stores and a costume shop in addition to several general stores.  Apparently they figure no-one wants brown hair for Halloween.

Merida and Queen Elinor, I love this photograph.

I have to admit, with ordering our dresses online I was expecting to have to make alterations once they arrived…  but I didn’t have to sew even one stitch on either.  Considering I’m a whopping five foot nothing?!?!?  I was amazed.  If I need a period dress again, I’ll definitely be heading to HolyClothing.com a second time.  The girl’s dress was less of a shocker, but still…  for straight out of the package, it fit pretty darn well.  🙂

So, that’s us this year.  We didn’t go on a photo safari… it was just too darn chilly out.  So these were taken in my parent’s back yard.  Thanks Auntie Risa!

And here’s one more, just a snapshot I grabbed of Lily-Ann at the party, being cute with a stuffed snake:

Oh, and yes…  the little stuffed blackbear is from the Disney store.  You can flip it inside out and it looks like one of the triplets (we call him Hamish) but the girl wanted him to stay a bear for our pictures.  🙂  My mom gave him to Lily-Ann on her birthday.

I Miss Friday Afternoons!

With Halloween parties, Samhain, and Yule all just around the corner it feels like I’ve got a million projects on the go.  I’ve got four costumes to put together (the girl needs two – one for our group theme, and one for trick or treating and school).  I’m also collaborating with someone on my Yule gift for Damon, and I’m in the planning stages for some holiday crafting.

Autumn has always (at least as far as I can remember) been my favourite time of year, and now that it is officially here I’m starting to feel like myself again – all the holiday crafting and planning definitely helps with that.  The last few weeks had been filled with a lot of anxiety.  This time of year never used to include sending my girl off to school, and I really miss having her around.  Now that we’re getting into a routine again, while I still miss her a ton, at least the stress of transition is over.

I have to admit, I really preferred kid-kid’s pre-k schedule to her kindergarten schedule.  Yeah, okay… so there isn’t a huge difference.  We’re on afternoons still, and Thursday is still early dismissal, but now she goes five days a week instead of four.  You have no idea how much I treasured our Friday afternoons – just the girl and I.

Fridays have been my favourite day of the week for a couple of years now.  Yeah, I like that Friday night is sleepover night and the girl is off at my parents place…  but even more than that?  I loved Friday afternoons.  It was the one day a week when the girl and I would spend a few hours baking or crafting or playing card games.  The mornings are filled with routines, getting ready for the day type of stuff and then getting lunch made.  Friday afternoons were all about the girl and I just doing something fun, for the sake of fun.  I really do miss that.

So I’m glad I’ve got holidays to plan for.  Things to sew.  Things to bake.  Things to create.  Things to make.  It keeps me busy and takes my mind off of Friday afternoons.  Not sure how exactly to fit those afternoons in anywhere else during the week, but I have to try something.  Chances are, if I’m missing them, the girl is too.

A post political or piratical.

So, apparently the media did not like my photograph of choice for this provincial election.  It was one I chose with purpose.  But the decision has come down – give them a different image or they won’t include one at all.  A frustrating state of affairs if you ask me.  So what else is there to do?  I ran outside this evening, right before it got too dark to do so, and had Damon take a photo:

Tobi-Dawne Smith for Saskatoon Meewasin 2011

 

Now…  being the type who enjoys fighting injustice and ignorance as I do…  and being as intolerant of the misuse of power as I am…  well…  I do have to admit to a certain idea crossing my mind.  I actually did entertain the notion of sending in a photo of me in my Halloween costume.  After all.  If a photo of me, in the riding, holding a baby snake we came across while out at a photo shoot, teaching my daughter about it and encouraging her to value all life is inappropriate?  Then maybe me as a pirate is exactly what they need to see.  😉  But, I behaved.  As seen above.  After all, there’s a time and a place for all things.  Take this blog post.  Me as a pirate may not be appropriate for election night coverage, but here?  Heck ya!  So, here you go.  Me and my family – The Last Saskatchewan Pirates (as photographed by my younger sister Jewles).

Oh!  And yes… my election night photograph will show up again in the slideshow.  I couldn’t see a simple way to remove it, and I didn’t feel it was enough of a priority to spend a bunch of time digging around for the solution… so I just left it there.  LOL

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Blessed Samhain!

What a fabulous night.  Trick-or-Treating with the kid is absolutely epic.  She was so awesome.  I really am a super lucky mommy.  I feel doubly blessed to have a husband who is perfectly content with me putting candy out on the step, so that the three of us can spend Halloween together.  I have lots of pictures to edit and share…  but for now, will share one my sister took for us on Saturday (the night of Denyse’s annual get-together):

The Last Saskatchewan Pirates - Hanging Near the River Saskatchewan.

The Last Saskatchewan Pirates

 

As we enter this season of slumber, gather close those you treasure, share stories and food, and enjoy the quiet. Celebrate lives well lived, and remember well those who have already crossed to the other side.  Blessed Samhain!  …and a Happy Halloween too.

We’re home. :)

After a night of Halloween festivities at our friend’s yearly costume party, we are all home.  The girlie is tucked into bed beside me.  I’m downloading photographs from our little mini-shoot with my sister Jewles (thanks for taking pictures of us Bug, I appreciated it).  Damon is upstairs unwinding on the computer.  And soon we will join the girlie in dreamland.  🙂  It was a good day.

The Last Saskatchewan Pirates

I’m really hoping that my cousin Jamie will be available for a quickie of a shoot on Saturday.  We have a Halloween party to go to and this year the girlie wanted us to all go as pirates.  Last year we did Cinderella and her mouse friends, and before that we’d been a cave family.  It’s been a couple years since our last family portrait, and I can’t think of anything cooler than us in our pirate garb down beside the Saskatchewan River.  I mean, honestly.  LOL  How much fun would that be?

As I’ve said before… you should never take yourself too seriously.  🙂

Sooo…  Cinderella and her mousy friends were 2010, and the cave family was 2008…  what was 2009…  Oh!  Right.  Dora, Diego, and Alycia.  Now, I can’t seem to find a photo of that trio anywhere.  Hmmm…  might have to go scavenging for one.  I know there are a couple on this hard drive somewhere.  LOL  For now though, here are the other two:

And hopefully, after this Saturday, I’ll have another to share.  🙂

Peaceful Blessed Samhain!

I’m posting earlier in the day than usual, but there is much to do today, and I likely won’t have another chance to sit at the computer later.  I’m also cheating a little…  The picture I’m sharing is one from yesterday AND is one my mom took.  But I didn’t think anyone would mind.  😉

Cinderella and her mouse friends

Be safe and blessed while you celebrate Samhain tonight.

For those who celebrate Halloween, have a ton of fun.

For those who don’t celebrate the season, just enjoy your evening.

We celebrate Samhain, and have a little Halloween fun too.

Samhain (pronounced Sow-en) is the Celtic new year.  The celebration of the beginning of the dark half of the year.  It’s a festival of the bounty received from the years harvest, and a time of remembrance.  So say a prayer for those you have lost, and celebrate their lives, their love was a gift and this is the festival of thanks.  It’s not about ghouls and ghosts and vampires or the creepy things that make up the frivolity of Halloween…  but we enjoy that part of it too.  So get all dolled up, go out trick or treating, let out a witchy cackle, and then settle in, hold your family close, warm yourselves with a glass of hot cider, and remember the blessings of the past year.

Much love everyone!

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