Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween, Old and New

Pumpkins, candles and scaryyyy movies, oh my!

You know what that means. It’s Halloween!

October 31st is always so much fun. Overindulging in candy, consuming pumpkin-flavored-everything, creating your own costume because you can’t find anything for adults that doesn’t start with the word “Naughty” (i.e. “Naughty Miss Muffet” “Naughty Little Bo Peep”…seriously Halloween, stop turning the innocent figures of my childhood into, uh, skanks).

These things always make the end of October special. But this year, my Halloween was extra special. Why? Because I’m in France, and get this…

The kids had never carved a pumpkin before. 

Do you see that face? She is so into it. And I am, too! I had a blast sharing such a fun fall tradition with my French kiddos!

We actually celebrated Halloween a day early, meaning that yesterday afternoon was filled with all the things I’d normally be doing today. Like what, you ask? Well…

1. Teaching the kids how to gut a pumpkin. Super glam.

2. Helping them decide which kind of face to carve into our jack-o-lanterns (scary? silly? important decisions had to be made.)

3. Roasting the pumpkin seeds and turning them into a yummy granola. (more to come)

4. Lighting the jack-o-lanterns and using them as table decorations at dinner time.

5. Sporting our masks from Venice for lack of better last-minute costume options.

6. Watching a scarrrrry movie. (they’re too young for Friday the 13th, so we watched La Ligue des Gentlemen Extraordinaires (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in French, with subtitles en anglais pour moi).  

So it wasn’t 100% traditional, but I think that’s what made it even more special.

And now, recipe time!

Mmmm. Looks too good to eat, almost!

Just kidding…half of that bowl is already gone.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed, Cranberry, and Dark Chocolate Granola

Step 1

After glamorously gutting your pumpkin, rinse seeds in water. Soak until extra (sorry, for lack of a better word) pumpkin guts come off, then pat dry with a towel. 

Step 2

Mix towel-dried seeds with 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and stir until coated. Stir in a mixture of brown sugar (about 2 tbsp), white sugar (about 2 tbsp), salt (about 1/4 tsp) and cinnamon (about 1 tbsp, or as desired). Resist the temptation to eat before roasting (it will be difficult, what with the buttery-sugary-cinammony smell and all).

Step 3

Roast in the oven at 350 degrees on a greased cookie sheet for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through to make sure that seeds are toasted evenly.

Step 4

Let seeds cool completely. Chop up a bar of dark chocolate. Yep, a whole bar. Remove dried cranberries from package. When seeds are fully cooled, stir in chocolate pieces and cranberries. Eat immediately. 

The finished, toasty, cinnamon-y seeds, sans chocolate and cranberries.

Trail mix on the left, plain cinnamon seeds on the right.

So, so good. So easy, too!

And now, your feature presentation:

The Ghosts of Halloween Past

Best, obviously, if viewed with spoooooky music (or at least the Scooby Doo theme song) playing in the background.

1995 hay-ride with the bestie, baby!

Sorry but, how cute are we with those pigtails? Get real.

My six-year-old self LOVED this flapper costume. So sassy! Dad gets an A+ too.

I’m a natural red-head, obviously. Wilmaaaaaaaaaa! 

Let’s flash forward to 2008? 2009? Either way, it’s me and the moms at the Dallas Arboretum Pumpkin Patch (And um, pumpkin house. So cool, right?)

2009 Halloween Party with United Friends/United Cerebral Palsy and volunteers in Augora Hills, California. One of my favorite fall memories. Miss these wonderful friends!

Jack the Ripper? Meet Karley the Carver.

Okay, actually no. That’s very scary. I only look dangerous here—really, I’m at a mini Halloween get-together with my sorority sisters. I think I had just finished my third mug of apple cider and fourth bowl of cinnamon-y pumpkin seeds when this photo was taken.

And of course, I have to revisit my favorite-ever-Halloween-costume.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, anyone? 

Seriously though…2009 had it going on Halloween-wise!

And this year? I’m an American.

Okay, so technically I’m always an American. But I’m in France for Halloween this year, which means that my sailor-y striped sweater counts not only as a costume, but as a creative costume.


Bisous, mes amis! Less treats, more tricks this year. Oh, and Happyyyyy Halloweeeeeen, of course!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Venice (in 100 photos+words or less)

Welcome to Venice.

City shots. What is there to say, really?

No cars necessary. Romance inevitable.

Bright and cheery on Burano Island.

Pistachio and chocolate? Yes I did.

Tapas on French baguettes.

Just another car-less “street” to get lost in.


Graffiti on ancient Venetian walls - something old, something new.

Betcha can’t tell who’s who.

Murano Island glass making factory. Where lights look like candy.

Saint Mark’s Piazza.

Ciao, bellas.


(29 photos, 70 words)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making Myself at Home

7 things that have made my new space feel like home.

1. A simple craft lets me turn a cute shopping bag into a cuter display board for all the pictures I brought of my beautiful friends and family.





2. Showy necklaces + a sketch make the room feel like me.



3. A clear compartment box from The Container Store works double duty as an organizer and a fun display case for my fancy-schmancy jewelry. 


4. The room wouldn’t be mine if it didn’t have books, magazines, and journals… everywhere.

5. A care package just has this way of making you feel so cared about.

6. Pumpkin spice latte mix, to take the place of all the Starbucks runs I’m missing. Je t’aime beaucoup, Maxwell House.

7. A cinnamon-orange scented sachet. I bought it in France, but it makes my room smell just like the candles my mom burns in our Texas kitchen during the fall.

And a few extras:

·      Sipping on coffee and tea all day yesterday while it rained

·      Building a tent in the living room with the kids

·      Letting the kids snack on popcorn and hot chocolate underneath ^^ tent

·      Making baked apples for dessert (okay, maybe I cheated and did them in a pan…)

·      Curling up in this fun guy to grab a coffee with a new friend on the boardwalk

Do we see a small connection between these two photos? Maybe? I’ll keep working on it. Back to the point:

“I long, as every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” - Maya Angelou

1 Corinthians 2:7-9 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,”What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Being “at home” on earth is nice—especially when the air is crisp, you’re wearing a cozy turtleneck, the fire is popping, and something that smells like nutmeg and pumpkin is waiting to be taken out of the oven.

So thankful for experiences like that! But even more thankful for the eternal home that’s waiting for me.

Off to a mini vacay in Venice for the rest of the week. Be back soon though, with lots of fun stories to share. Ciao, bellas!


Karley with a K. Todos los derechos reservados. © Maira Gall.