Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall, in full swing

So, I am at Target the other day, trying to track down Pumpkin Spice flavored Hershey kisses, and as I am pawing through the Halloween stuff, all I hear is Christmas music.

Now, I do love Christmas music. A lot. Just, not in October. The isles of the glittery, garland-y, green, white and red, surrounded Halloween like a western show down." May the best man win," said Christmas, as Halloween, shoved into the corner of Target, was unable to shout above the holiday tunes.

My brain was buzzy, and confused, as I gathered my last minute Halloween essentials, and whisper sang to the Christmas music blaring to my right. Feeling a little sheepish, like I was cheating on Halloween, I didn't grab for the peppermint flavored anything, or the holiday pajamas trying to jump into my cart. They had Animal from the Muppet's on them, and in my size, too, for goodness sake. Christmas, why, WHY, taunt me like this?

"Halloween, Halloween. It's Halloween time." I chanted to myself, gripping the cart handle, crazed by the collision of my two favorite holidays. Oh, and by the way, if you are wondering the theme that all the stores are going for this Christmas, it's silver everything, and peacock inspired Christmas tree's and garlands.

All righty. I can dig that, I suppose.

 It took all of my will power at the next store decked out in Christmas garb,  not to buy the leopard printed fake poinsettia flowers. Dang, they were cute. I'm sure they are not for everyone, but, my house seems to need leopard printed fake poinsettia flowers, doesn't yours?

 I thought so too. We have good taste, don't we?


I never did find any Pumpkin Spice flavored Hershey kisses. Too bad, Halloween. You let me down. Christmas, however, has a smug grin on it's face, mouthing to me the words "I got your back," as it shakes a box of Trader Joe's Chocolate covered shortbread stars at me. They are like my kryptonite. Sheesh.


Back at the Smith household though, Fall, is in full swing, and Christmas is still tucked away quietly in the attic.

It was time to break out the press and squuuuuwweeeze out some Autumn liquid gold. I absolutely adore this machine. Head over heels about it.

Along with the 7 gallons of cider, Jeremy and I peeled, cored, diced, and froze 40 cups of apples. Take that, yo. No cranberries or pomegranates here. Fall, in full swing.

Pumpkins, pumpkins. Cannot forget the pumpkins. We finally got our little hineys to the Minglement Roastarie and carved our pumpkins in the Friday darkness, to be displayed amongst the dozens of other pumpkins that light up the corner on Halloween night. Then, it was time to do our own at home, and spookify our own little porch, in true Halloween tradition.

I like to make goodies while the pumpkins are being cleaned out. My way of skirting out of taking out the innards, I suppose. This year, I made apple fritters.

I followed this recipe if you are interested in making some of your own goodies, too. They were quite tasty, although, it took a while to get the hang of cooking them in the hot oil without burning them on the outside, and having raw dough on the inside. Smaller pieces was the answer.

So, just ignore the banging and hollering of Christmas coming from your attic. It will get it's turn. Take some time to celebrate the orange, purple, and black. Howl at the moon, chase down a goblin, taunt a vampire. In a couple days, it will be good ol' Halloween, and then you can send out the troops to open the floodgates of Christmas. I will welcome thee too. Just wait a couple more days.

Halloween's a coming.

   Have a Happy Halloween Everyone!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I say "no"  a lot.

As a parent, the word "no" hangs out on the tip of my tongue just waiting to be sent into the ears of my wee little one way too often.

Can I watch TV?


Can I take the dog for a walk? Alone?


Can I take my pet caterpillar to school?


Can I give my American Girl dolls a bath in the bathtub?


Can I....
No, no, and definitely no.

You can call it strict, you can call it mean, but fear keeps me from saying "yes". I have this thing, this deep need to be not just good at something, but really, really good at something. Everyone has special talent whether they know it or not, and for me, when it comes to being good at that one good thing, being a good parent is what I strive for. What I want to be good at the most. I will never be a perfect one. I will sometimes be the very opposite of one. I will have victories as one, I will fail sometimes as one, but it is the one thing I really, really want to be good at. Not perfection, no, that's not what I seek, but a good one.  I want to be what my little girl deserves.

With that being said, where does "no" come into the picture?

If you ask her, "no" and all it's different forms, are said a lot. I say it out of fear most of the time. Yes just has so many consequences. Too many" what-ifs" chase that train. Yes is dangerous, fun, and can be very suave in it's nature, and "no" is quick, "no" is firm, and no usually means no fun. I forget that sometimes some of those "no's" can very easily be turned into a "yes." A safe yes.

I decided to take something I have repeatedly said "no" to, and turned it into a gleaming, spit-shined, blinking marquee, smile-a-mile-wide, " yes."

I set the scene very carefully while she was busy doing something else. She had no idea whatsoever a yes was creeping into play, just in the next room.

She has watched me for years put on my makeup, and has looked forlornly at my makeup drawer, but I have always said "no," or given the old head shake with a warning "mmm-mmm."

So, I gathered up some odds and ends, and set them on her vanity, all pretty, all poised to dabble in, sans any mention of no. Today, it was "Yes." Go ahead. Take your time. Experiment, there is no hurry. Go for it.

                       So I called her in, and waited to see what the next hour of yes would bring.

First off, before she saw anything, I told her about beauty coming from within. What is in your heart, governs all. It is the epicenter of all things beautiful.

She turned to see the make up, then looked at me and said "Whaaaaaaaaaat?"  "REAAAAAAALLLLLY!", and she gingerly sat down, but still felt the remnants of the many years of "no"'s . She smiled, and peeked at me, and smiled, and looked sheepish into the mirror as if she was being naughty. No naughties, just a "yes" ready to party, so she dug in.

She couldn't stop smiling and snickering. I sat back and watched as she experimented and took full advantage of mom's makeup.

"It's hard, mom." she said, after a bit. 
"It's hard to make it look right."

"Yes.  It's tricky. It takes a long time to learn. Nobody is great at it the first time they try," I tell her.

But she plays, and we listen to a CD I made years ago, titled "chick songs."  I have this Deja vu moment as I watch her, and a pang in my heart thumps hard as I realize this is going to be the scene soon, way too soon, in just eight short years or so, as she gets ready to go out with her buddies, or a date, and I return to spouting off the "No's" for the night, as she expertly lines her eyes.


Thinking about that hurts so bad.

For now, I need to learn "yes" a bit more. I need to remind myself she can't just hear no. She can't learn in just "No."

"Mom, do I look pretty?" she asks.

Yes, honey, you do. The answer is always yes." I tell her.

She smiles, and gives me a lipstick smeared grin.

"Thank you, mom." she says, her brown eyes full of grateful.

"Yes, dear. Always. I am sorry I haven't done this sooner." I answer.

"Yes. Me too......can I leave the make up on my vanity for the day, and come back later and play with it by myself?"

".....Yes. Yes, you can."

Small steps, big smiles.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ugly Food

Isn't it true that the uglier the food, the better it tastes??

Okay, maybe not so true, but, for some reason when someone says "rustic" when in terms of food, The word "ugly" comes to my mind, because, well, "rustic" is just a foodie term for act-like-you-know-what-you're-doing-because-no-one-will-know-the-difference-if-you-know-what-you're-doing-or-not. It's supposed to look like that. Rustic=food art. Very subjective.

I have been making this "rustic" open faced apple pie for many years. It is easy. delicious. and ugly. But, you be the judge. I adapted it from food goddess Ina Garten.

                                               Rustic Apple Pie


                   4 1/2 cups peeled, diced apples ( a blend of different varieties is nice)
                    1/4 Cup flour

                    1/4 Cup sugar
                    1/4 tsp kosher salt

                    1/2 tsp Cinnamon
                    1/4 tsp Nutmeg

                     Pinch of each allspice and ginger

                     4 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, diced

                     2 Cups flour

                     1/4 Cup sugar

                     1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

                      2 sticks, cold, unsalted butter, diced

            To make the crust, put the flour, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add in those beautiful, chilly little cubes of butter and pulse a couple times until the butter is pea sized.

With the motor running, slowly add 1/4 cup of ice water through the feed tube, adding tiny bits at a time, until the dough just starts to come together. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and form into two equal discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap, and put one into the fridge to chill for at least one hour, and freeze the other for a later use, or a rustic pie emergency. Give your food processor bowl a quick rinse because we are going to use it later.

While the pie crust is chilling, make the filling. In the bowl of your food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and spices. Give a couple of pulses to mix. Add the butter, and mix until the mixture is crumbly, and starts to come together.

After your dough has been properly chilled, roll it out into a circle about 11 inches in diameter.  I roll it out straight on my parchment paper so I don't have to transfer it later. I'm a not so a good at a transferring a dough.

Put the rolled out dough on your parchment paper and then onto a rimmed baking sheet. Pile your apples in the middle of the dough, spreading out to almost the sides, but leaving a 2 inch or so border of crust. Sprinkle your buttery filling mixture onto the apples and gently fold the crust border over the apples, pleating it, to make a circle.


If you want to be extra fancy and woo the rustic with your fancy ways, in a small bowl, stir together an egg white with a tbsp. of water, then brush the sides of the crust with it. Sprinkle it with some sugar to give it a sweet, golden kiss when baked. Fancy dancy.

Bake your pie in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Let cool a bit before cutting it up like a pizza pie and scarfing it down. Yum.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I love my job. I really, really do.

Holy mother of craziness, batman, these months have been bi-zz-y!

And, this girl is done dog tired. Stick a fork in me, flat on the floor, timer went off a while ago, pooped out. But, it's good. It's all good.

Sarah and I have just finished shooting the final wedding of our wedding season, wedding #8. It was a great wedding to end the season with, as the couple couldn't get enough of each other. We like that.
Being at the weddings, and looking at it through a lens, is very different than going to one as a guest. When you have a camera in hand, and spend hours and hours shooting, one comes accustomed to catching things that most people miss: glances, glares, flirts, sobs, love, fear, laughter, and details, details, details.



You learn a lot about people, and you learn a lot about the ceremony. The tradition of it, all the different ways it is celebrated. It is so beautiful, because the ultimate foundation of it, is love, and that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

I love my job. I really, really do.


Amidst the very many hours I have spent (and will spend for at least the next month) in front of my computer, I took the first day off in more than two weeks to spend time soaking up a very sunny Saturday. In October. Sunny and Saturdays usually don't mix in this month, but yesterday was one of complete perfection. I got chores done, cleaned up Lavern and sent her to the covered barn to overwinter (weep!), and watched my girl run through the sprinkler in the near eighty degree weather. In October. My smile is so big, I fear it may crack my face. We ate Chinese chicken salad for dinner, and I baked an apple crostata, and we had family movie night, and noshed as we watched Practical Magic, my very favorite Halloween movie. I love yesterday.

This is my winter garden box. I have yet to dig into it, because it is so hot outside. All I want is salad. Soup with kale and chard will have to wait, I suppose.

I had this brilliant idea to spray paint my dried amaranth, black, for spooky decor. It...uh.. well, it's not black, but after two coats of paint, it turned purple. Halloween purple. I added some glitter, so it looks Halloweenie, but not black as I had hoped. Boo. BTW, look at that tinder dry grass. Is is super crunchy, and so, so dry. It's weird to think that in just a couple months it will be a squishy, soggy patch of green. Ahhhhh, seasons in the PNW.

I caught her a cricket. A HUGE monster of a cricket. And, as she tried to look at it, it hopped off her hand, and landed straight into the mouth of a very hungry dog named Daisy. She gulped it down in one swallow. Soooooo gross. Bad dog. Bad, bad, dog. I can almost hear it's sad cricket song coming from her belly.

So, we found a new one, and it survived, but pooped all over her hand, which she was not thrilled about, as you can see by the look on her face.

                                           Not gonna happen, dawg. Nope. Nevah.

The weather looks to hold steady for a bit. These clear, crisp, beautiful mild days with the changing leaves are so great for pictures, so, if you are in the mood for having pictures done for Christmas cards or gift giving, now is the time to call me, before the rains come. Shameless plug, I know. Anyhoo, regardless, go out and enjoy this crazy summer that will not end.

No complaints here. Just a pooped out tired girl, still working on her tan.